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The Queen of Oak Bay makes its way into Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal on Oct. 26, 2013.John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

Five ship-building firms, including Seaspan Shipyards in Vancouver, are in the running to build three liquefied natural gas ships for BC Ferries.

A request for proposals has been issued to the pre-qualified shipyards in Vancouver, Norway, Germany, Poland and Turkey to build two vessels capable of carrying 145 vehicles and 600 passengers, and a third ship able to carry 125 vehicles.

The request stipulates that the ships will be designed to use both liquefied natural gas and marine diesel oil.

BC Ferries vice-president of engineering Mark Wilson says he expects the operation of the new intermediate-class ferries will cut fuel costs and reduce pressure on fares.

Wilson says this project is the stepping stone to standardizing vessels and equipment, which will save on maintenance and training costs.

Last month, the B.C. government announced cuts in ferry service, increases in fares for seniors and the possibility of gaming on some ferries in an effort to raise revenue for the financial floundering service.

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