2 new Washington ferries under construction



BREMERTON — Two new Washington state ferries designed to carry 144 cars in the medium-size Olympic class are taking shape at Vigor Shipyards, the former Todd shipyard.

The Tokitae is scheduled for delivery in February and the Samish at the end of next year, The Kitsap Sun reported Saturday.

Both ferries have two car decks, one passenger deck and a sun deck. They’ll carry up to 1,500 passengers.

A third Olympic-class ferry is planned but unfunded, said WSF planning director Ray Deardorf.

The construction benefited from lessons learned from previously building three 64-car ferries. They new ferries are on time and on budget, said Vigor senior project manager Jeff Bukoski and WSF construction manager Ron Wohlfrom.

At $261 million for the two 144-car vessels, the $906,000 per car space betters the $1.1 million per slot for the 64-car ferries, according to WSF finance director Jean Baker.

The hull of the Tokitae was rolled out of the construction building onto a dry dock in March. The superstructure was barged to Vigor from Nichols Brothers Boatbuilders of Whidbey Island and attached to the hull. The Tokitae was floated out of dry dock on July 19. Already in green and white colors, it’s being tested and outfitted for sea trials in early February, Wohlfrom said.

The Samish’s keel-laying ceremony was March 8. Steel is being shaped and welded into large modules, then modules joined to other modules in the build hall.

Washington State Ferries expects its boats to last 60 years. The 144-car boats under construction will enable the 59-year-old Evergreen State and 55-year-old Klahowya to be retired.

A third 144-car vessel, whenever it’s built, would replace the Hiyu, which is only 46 years old but is too small at 34 cars. The 87-car Tillikum, age 54, would become the standby boat.

The fleet would then be in pretty good shape for a while, with the next-oldest ships — 46-year-old Super-class ferries Elwha, Kaleetan and Yakima — not slated to be swapped out for new boats until 2026, 2027 and 2028.