By Mark Edward Nero
On Sept. 14, the Washington State Department of Transportation christened Chimacum, the fleet’s third Olympic Class vessel, during a ceremony at Vigor Industrial’s Harbor Island Shipyard in Seattle.
The christening marks the Chimacum’s final stage of construction and its preparation for sea trials. Among those who spoke during the event were Gov. Jay Inslee, Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar and Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent.
“The Washington state ferry system is among the best in the world. I am so pleased that the Chimacum is being built efficiently, on-budget and ahead-of schedule” Inslee said. “This is great for the state’s taxpayers and our maritime industry.”
The 144-car Chimacum is expected to begin its sea trials in early 2017 and start carrying passengers on the Seattle/Bremerton route next spring. The Washington State Transportation Commission selected the vessel name in 2014 to honor the gathering place of the Chimacum people, which is now the present day town of Chimacum near Port Townsend.
“Chimacum joins a hard-working fleet that connects people and communities as part of our state’s integrated, multimodal transportation system,” Millar said. “Washington’s marine highways carry more than 24 million people every year, so it’s critical for us to replace our oldest ferries and plan for the future.”
Chimacum is the third of four funded Olympic Class ferries that replace the aging, midcentury-era Evergreen State Class vessels. The first Olympic Class vessel, Tokitae, joined the Mukilteo/Clinton route in June 2014. The second, Samish, started service on the Anacortes/San Juan Islands route in June 2015. Suquamish, the fourth vessel in the class, is under construction at Vigor and is expected to enter service in 2019.