washington state ferries

Washington State Ferries Orders Fourth Olympic Ferry

Mike Schuler
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December 28, 2015

Washington State Ferries’ M/V Samish during sea trials in April 2015. Photo: Washington State Ferries

Washington State Ferries is ending the year with an order for its fourth new Olympic Class ferry at Vigor Industrial.

WSF signed a Notice to Proceed last week with shipbuilder Vigor for work on its fourth 144-vehicle ferry, with work to begin in January.

The new ferry, along with the ferries’ Tokitae, Samish and Chimacum, will be replacing four of Washington State’s oldest ferries built during the 1950s and 1960s.

The budget to build the vessel is $122 million, and delivery is scheduled for mid-2018. The new ferry is funded through the Connecting Washington transportation funding package.

“Our top priority is keeping the ferry system safe and reliable for the millions of commuters, freight haulers and travelers who depend on us every year,” said WSF Chief of Staff Elizabeth Kosa. “Thanks to state lawmakers and critical funds from Connecting Washington, we are able to meet some of the ferry system’s most urgent needs, including building this new ferry.”

The fourth ferry will be built at Vigor Industrial, supporting about 500 jobs at Vigor’s Seattle shipyard and contractors around the region.

The Washington State Transportation Commission is leading a public process to determine the fourth ferry’s name.

Olympic Class ferries are equipped with the latest emergency-evacuation and fire-suppression systems, two Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant elevators, and wider car-deck lanes that provide more room for passengers to access their vehicles. The vessels’ hull design also reduces wake and provides better fuel efficiency, while cleaner burning engines reduce emissions.

The first vessel, Tokitae, joined the Mukilteo/Clinton route in June 2014. The second ferry, Samish, was put into service on the Anacortes/San Juans Island route in June 2015. The third vessel, Chimacum, is under construction at Vigor and will be assigned to the Seattle/Bremerton route in early 2017.

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