Ferry Business - Autumn/Winter 2022

8 0 lavish 65,211gt cruise ferry Viking Glory, built by Xiamen Shipbuilding Industry in China. Even so, building abroad, let alone China, is not an option. “It’s not easy for us to build and as a government agency, it’s even harder to be innovative which is one of the struggles we face,” says Rubstello. “The question is also whether there are enough shipbuilders in Washington state that can gear up, not only to deliver five ships, but also do it at a reasonable price. But when it comes to building abroad – which is cheaper indeed – I don’t see this happening in my lifetime.” Rubstello expects the first new hybridelectric Olympic-class vessel to be delivered in 2027, with the other four to follow at one-year intervals. Funding for the newbuilds has already been made available. Full authority has been given to implement hybrid-electric technology for the newbuilds as well as a hybrid-electric retrofit of the three existing Jumbo Mark II-class double-enders, the largest vessels in WSF’s 21-ship strong fleet. “We also have funding to bring shoreside charging power to five of our terminals,” adds Rubstello. Keeping the diesel engine element is necessary as WSF’s ships are not built for specific routes; they are designed to operate across all 10 if necessary. “We need maximum flexibility – there’s some comfort in knowing that you have a backup if electric charging power isn’t there for whatever reason. While it will be possible to operate full electric on the shorter-distance routes – for example, our Seattle-Bremerton route will have charging connections on both sides – this will not be possible on the longer routes, especially when plug-in facilities are only available on one side. Charging shouldn’t impact our operations flow and therefore batteries need to be recharged in 20 minutes.” Rubstello underlines that Jay Inslee, Washington state’s democratic governor, is a huge proponent for addressing climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. “We burn over 15 million gallons of diesel every year. That’s quite significant, so we did a study that came out with the recommendation to implement hybridelectric technology, something fully supported by our governor.” With no coal or nuclear power available in Seattle, a combination of hydro and wind power will be supplied by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission power companies. CFR FEATURED INTERV IEW The Seattle skyline viewed from a WSF ferry