Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Vigor Christens Olympic-Class Ferry

By Mark Edward Nero

State elected, transportation and manufacturing leaders were on hand March 20 for the christening of Washington State’s first 144-car Olympic Class ferry, the M/V Tokitae, at Vigor Industrial’s shipyard in Seattle.

Washington Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson served as the ship’s sponsor and broke a bottle to christen the new ferry before a crowd of more than 200.

“This is more than just a ferry,” Vigor Industrial CEO Frank Foti said at the christening. “The vessel is a vital economic, social and transportation link to the ferry communities across Puget Sound.”

The M/V Tokitae is the first of three 144-car ferries planned to replace the state’s aging Evergreen State-class 87-car ferries, all of which are about 60 years old. The second 144-car ferry, the M/V Samish, is under construction now at Vigor Industrial.

Following sea trials and crew training, the M/V Tokitae is expected to enter service on the Mukilteo-Clinton route in June. The M/V Samish is expected to serve the San Juan Islands beginning early 2015.
Washington lawmakers also approved funding for a third 144-car ferry during the recently completed legislative session. The still unnamed third ferry is expected to be built by Vigor, and likely serve the Seattle-Bremerton route.

“These vessels we’re putting in (service), one right after the other, will make sure that our reliability for our customers is there,” Peterson said before christening the vessel. She added that the new boats will also save costs in the long run compared to keeping old vessels in service.

Rep. Judy Clibborn, chair of the House Transportation Committee, said that legislators committed to build new ferries both to replace the state’s aging ferry fleet and to build those vessels in Washington.
“Every shipbuilding community in the state is now competitive and doing work,” Clibborn said.

According to Vigor Fab, the Vigor subsidiary building the ferries, construction of the M/V Tokitae provided 500 jobs at Vigor and its subcontractors, which included Nichols Brothers on Whidbey Island, Jesse Engineering in Tacoma and Eltech Electric and Performance Contracting Group in Seattle. Those 500 jobs comprise about one million hours of work on the M/V Tokitae, Vigor Fab Senior Vice President Joe Corvelli said.

The M/V Tokitae is 362.5 feet long, has a beam of 83 feet and a draft of 24.5 feet. Its capacity is 1,500 passengers and 144 vehicles.