Ferry Boats are a frequent sight on Puget Sound, so much so that they seem an integral part of the seascape. They work day and night to transport passengers and vehicles between the east and west shores of Puget Sound, throughout the San Juan Islands, and around various smaller ports.
If you are less than sixty years old and grew up in the area, there’s a chance you are still riding on some of the same ferries you enjoyed as a kid. There is a feeling of nostalgia in that, but these Evergreen State Class ferries are nearing the end of their lives. Thus, the Washington State Department of Transportation has ordered four new Olympic Class 144-car/1,500 person ferries. TOKITAE is the first of these, due to begin the Clinton-Mukilteo run this June.
This new class of ferry will be versatile like the Issaquah Class ferries, and safer with wider, less angled stair cases and state-of-the-art emergency evacuation systems. It will also better comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements thanks to two elevators.
The population in our area is projected to greatly increase throughout the next sixty years, so it’s important to have ferries large enough to accommodate growing traffic. The long life span of these ferries also underscores the need to make them as fuel efficient, clean-burning, and otherwise as environmentally friendly as possible now. And as time goes on, these new ferries, too, will become a part of many people’s memories.
This ferry is “Made in Washington,” thanks to the teamwork of Nichols Brothers Boat Builders, Engineered Heavy Services, US Fab, M.J. Martinac Shipbuilding, Vigor Industrial, Jesse Engineering, Eltech Electric, and many others. The building and fitting of TOKITAE has created 200 direct jobs and 350 contractor jobs. Subsequent ferries will likewise support the local job economy.
TOKITAE is 362 feet long, 83 feet abeam, has a draft of 24 feet, and is 4,320 gross tons. There are two car decks, two passenger decks, and one crew deck. She can travel as fast as 17 knots thanks to two 6,000 hp (4,500 kW) EMD 12-710G7C diesel engines. The total cost to build TOKITAE is around $147 million, $115 million of which went to construction.
The next ferry under construction is M/V SAMISH, due to start service in early 2015. Which route SAMISH will take has yet to be decided. The third and fourth planned ferries will be built according to fund availability.
We look forward to traveling on our new Olympic Class ferries!