Washington state christens fourth Olympic-class ferry


The following is the text of a news release from the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT):

(SEATTLE) — The Washington State Department of Transportation christened its fourth Olympic-class ferry, Suquamish, on Saturday at Vigor's Harbor Island Shipyard.

In a traditional maritime ceremony, Amy Scarton, the WSDOT assistant secretary, Ferries Division, broke a bottle of champagne to officially welcome the newest ferry to the fleet. Gov. Jay Inslee, along with Suquamish Tribe Chairman Leonard Forsman, Sen. Sharon Nelson, Transportation Secretary Roger Millar, and Vigor CEO Frank Foti spoke during the event. Members of the Suquamish Tribe performed a traditional song and blessing to add to the festivities.

The christening marks Suquamish's final stage of construction and its preparation for sea trials.

"Our marine highways are an irreplaceable part of our state's transportation system, with ferries carrying over 24 million people each year across our state's waters," Inslee said. "It is critical for us to continue replacing our oldest ferries and I am proud to celebrate the Suquamish and the Washingtonians who built it."

"The state's wise decision to build these four Olympic-class ferries in succession resulted in cost reductions and quality improvements in each successive build," said Foti. "Vigor and the skilled men and women who built these ferries are honored to partner with Washington State Ferries and we commend the Legislature for its critical investments in marine transportation for the state's citizens."

The 144-car Suquamish will begin its sea trials in mid-2018 and will start carrying passengers beginning in the fall. The new ferry will operate on the Mukilteo/Clinton route in the summer and serve as a maintenance relief vessel in the winter, filling in when other vessels are out of service.

The Washington State Transportation Commission selected the vessel name in 2016 to honor the Suquamish people, a tribe that has inhabited the central Puget Sound for approximately 10,000 years. The Suquamish name translates into the "people of the clear salt water" in Southern Salish Lushootseed language.

Suquamish is the fourth funded Olympic-class ferry to replace the aging, midcentury-era Evergreen State-class vessels. The first Olympic-lass vessel, Tokitae, joined the Mukilteo/Clinton route in June 2014. The second, Samish, began service on the Anacortes/San Juan Islands route in June 2015. Chimacum, the third vessel in the class, entered service on the Seattle/Bremerton route in June 2017.

By Professional Mariner Staff