VICTORIA -- BC Ferries is celebrating Earth Day with the launch of its newest hybrid-power vessel.

The ferry fleet’s sixth diesel-electric vessel has entered the water in Romania and will be the last Island Class vessel to join the ferry service next year.

The new ship is expected to serve the Nanaimo-Gabriola Island route in early 2022.

The yet-unnamed vessel is scheduled for sea trials in August before delivery to Victoria later this year.

“We are excited to reach this milestone in our Island Class project,” said BC Ferries vice-president of shipbuilding Jamie Marshall in a statement Thursday.

“The launch of the sixth and final vessel in the series propels BC Ferries closer to reaching its goal to be efficient and environmentally responsible throughout the system,” Marshall added.

The Island Class vessels are expected to transition to full electric power once battery-charging infrastructure is installed at ferry terminals.

Island Class ferries have the capacity to carry at least 47 vehicles and up to 400 passengers and crew, according to the ferry service.

The new vessel will be the second Island Class ship to serve the Nanaimo-Gabriola Island route, with the two new vessels replacing single-vessel service and providing more frequent and flexible trips, according to BC Ferries.

The ferry company deployed the first two Island Class vessels on the Powell River-Texada Island route and the Port McNeill-Alert Bay-Sointula Island route in mid-2020.

The third and fourth new ships are scheduled to provide two-ship service on the Campbell River-Quadra Island route in 2022, while the fifth has been assigned to the Nanaimo-Gabriola route in 2022.