Ferry Business - Autumn/Winter 2022

7 9 underlining that workforce diversity is paramount. “We are very much a white, male-dominated organisation but we need to attract people from all different spectrums into our workforce. It’s really a big focus for us to attract people from different walks of life. So, we need to change our culture as once people are here, we want them to stay.” When asked if a lack of licensed staff may accelerate WSF’s implementation of automation technology, Rubstello reveals that it is something the company plans to consider. “One of our staff just shared an article about this concept as we are in the process of starting a procurement for five new vessels,” she says. “The question is should we be making sure our vessels can accommodate it in the future or looking for stuff that we can start putting into the new ships as they are being built? It’s still early days though as we’re just starting to scratch the surface.” Building anew is typically a very slow process in the USA because ships must be built domestically. “Washington has a state law that requires us to have our vessels built within our state,” says Rubstello. “We can only build outside the state of Washington and go to other yards within the USA when quotations are over five per cent above our estimate, which is $200 million per ship. We are going through this procurement process as we speak.” As standardisation is key to keeping maintenance costs down, the new 110.41-metre by 25.35-metre vessels will be a repeat order of the successful one-sizefits-all Olympic-class quartet, delivered by Vigor Industrial between 2014 and 2018. The 1,500-passenger and 144-car capacity Olympic-class ferries give WSF the maximum flexibility to be as uniform and consistent as possible, yet its price tag comes close to what Viking Line paid for its “ We need a better system to rise people through the ranks” Three Jumbo Mark II-class double-enders will be retrofitted with hybrid-electric propulsion systems