By Mark Edward Nero
The Evergreen State’s newest ferry, Chimacum, joined the state fleet on Friday, April 7, as Washington State Ferries (WSF) officially accepted the vessel from builder/contractor Vigor.
The Chimacum is expected to carry ferry riders on the Seattle/Bremerton route this summer after crews complete vessel outfitting, operational training and drills, according to WSF.
The name Chimacum (CHIM-a-cum) honors the Chemakum tribe's gathering place, which is now the present day town of Chimacum near Port Townsend.
“We’re excited to welcome the Chimacum to our fleet,” Washington State Ferries Assistant Secretary Amy Scarton said in a statement. “This new vessel replaces the 59-year-old Klahowya and allows us to continue providing safe and reliable service for the 2.7 million customers who use the Seattle/Bremerton route each year.”
Chimacum, which has room for 144 cars and 1,500 passengers, like its sister vessels Tokitae and Samish, offers flexible seating configurations, wider vehicle lanes and two passenger elevators, making it the most accessible vessel in the fleet for passengers with disabilities, according to WSF. The total construction cost was $123 million, in addition to equipment provided by Washington State Ferries.
“It’s an honor for us to partner with Washington State Ferries to deliver the Chimacum to the citizens of Washington,” Vigor CEO Frank Foti said in a statement. “Each ferry built here in Washington helps shipyards throughout Puget Sound retain skills vital to the maritime industry and supports hundreds of jobs.”
The Chimacum is the third Olympic Class ferry. The fourth 144-car vessel, Suquamish, is currently under construction at Vigor’s Harbor Island shipyard in Seattle.