The following is the text of a news release from Washington State Ferries:
(SEATTLE) — The Washington State Department of Transportation continues to grow its Olympic-class ferry fleet with a keel-laying ceremony marking the beginning of construction of Suquamish.
On Tuesday, Gov. Jay Inslee, state Sen. Christine Rolfes and Suquamish Tribal Chairman Leonard Forsman struck ceremonial welds on the keel of Suquamish at Vigor’s Harbor Island Shipyard in Seattle. Inslee welded his granddaughter’s initials; Rolfes, an orca whale; and Forsman, a circle with a dot, the ancient design element found at “Old Man House” in the early Suquamish winter village.
Traditionally, a keel-laying ceremony is said to bring good luck during construction and to the captain and crew who will operate the vessel.
Suquamish’s keel-laying ceremony comes only weeks after significant progress was made on the third Olympic-class vessel, Chimacum. Last month, Chimacum’s superstructure was joined to its hull in dry dock at Vigor. Construction on Chimacum is now about 75 percent complete.
“The simultaneous construction of two vessels is exciting,” said Matt Von Ruden, director of vessels for Washington State Ferries. “We hope to continue investing in long-term ferry build programs to keep up with our increasing ridership and replace our aging fleet.”
The 144-car Suquamish is the fourth Olympic-class vessel and has not been assigned to a route yet. The first Olympic-class vessel, Tokitae, joined the Mukilteo/Clinton route in June 2014. The second, Samish, was put into service on the Anacortes/San Juans Island route in June 2015. Chimacum will replace one of the older vessels on the Seattle/Bremerton route in 2017.