Washington State Ferries starts green ferry project

Washington State Ferries starts green ferry project
WSF’s new ferries will reduce carbon emissions by 94% in their life, and significantly cut operating costs (Image: WSF)

Washington State Ferries (WSF) has launched a new green ferry project which will see Seattle’s Vigor shipyard build up to five 144-car Olympic class, hybrid-electric ferries over the coming years.

Greening its fleet has been a major objective for WSF and is an important part of Washington’s overarching goal under Governor Inslee’s leadership to accelerate the State’s move to a clean energy future.

Vigor has built the last twelve ferries in the WSF fleet and has been actively engaged in the evolution of hybrid-electric solutions.

“Vigor has always deeply valued the opportunity to partner with Washington State Ferries in fabrication and repair,” said Vigor CEO Frank Foti. “Now having the opportunity to build vessels that greatly reduce carbon emissions is a great honour – both in terms of the positive impact on the environment and for the hundreds of family wage jobs created by this work.  We appreciate Governor Inslee’s leadership in this area and also the hard work the legislature undertook to make this happen.”

The new hybrid vessels will benefit from an Olympic class hull form which has less drag through the water and a small wake for a positive environmental impact. They will be capable of 100% electric operation on most routes once the infrastructure needed for charging is installed. Over the life of the vessels, a 94% reduction in carbon emissions is anticipated along with the added benefit of significantly reduced operating costs for the ferry system.

The design and engineering phase to convert the existing Olympic Class design to hybrid-electric is currently underway. Vigor expects to begin construction in late 2020, and delivery of the first ferry is anticipated late in 2022. Washington State Ferries’ Long Range Plan calls for all five ferries to be delivered by 2028, replacing aging vessels in the fleet.

Elly Yates-Roberts
By Elly Yates-Roberts
11 September 2019