Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Vigor Gets Olympic-Class Ferry Order

By Mark Edward Nero

Washington State Ferries signed a notice to proceed in late December with shipbuilder Vigor Industrial for work on a 144-vehicle ferry, with work slated to begin this month.

The ferry is to be built at Vigor Industrial and is expected to support about 500 jobs at Vigor’s Seattle shipyard and contractors around the region. The budget to build the vessel is $122 million, with delivery scheduled for mid-2018.

Along with current vessels Tokitae, Samish and Chimacum, the fourth Olympic-class ferry is expected to improve fleet reliability and safety by replacing four of the state’s oldest ferries, which were built during the 1950s and 1960s.

The first two Olympic-class ferries were delivered on time and under budget. The third vessel, under construction at Vigor, is reportedly on schedule and under budget, and is expected to be assigned to the Seattle/Bremerton route in early 2017.

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

“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,” Washington State Ferries Chief of Staff Elizabeth Kosa said in a prepared statement. “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.”

A public process to determine the fourth ferry’s name is being led by the Washington State Transportation Commission.