Another new state ferry to be built at Vigor on Harbor Island

Just one day after Harbor Island’s Vigor (formerly Todd) Shipyards delivered the ferry Kennewick to the state, three months ahead of schedule, there’s news that work will start soon on a new ferry. This one is more than double the capacity of the Kwa-di-Tabil Class (3 ferries including Kennewick) – it’s the first of a a new 144-car class based on the Issaquah class (whose flagship usually sails the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth run). The state signed an order with Vigor today, and work on the new $147 million ferry is expected to begin early next year. Though the state has a contract with Vigor for three of these ferries, there’s only funding for one right now, says Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond, warning that because of the aging state fleet, “We are on the brink of a crisis.” When this ferry is finished in 2014, it’ll allow the 55-year-old Evergreen State to be retired, according to Hammond – but that’s far from the only ferry that needs to be replaced. (Photo courtesy WSDOT)

14 Replies to "Another new state ferry to be built at Vigor on Harbor Island"

  • bridge to somewhere November 1, 2011 (2:21 pm)

    Is it just me, or do the West Seattle ferries seem to break down with above average frequency?

  • CandrewB November 1, 2011 (5:33 pm)

    Above average frequency to what?

  • bridge to somewhere November 1, 2011 (7:53 pm)

    The larger ferries seem to break down much less frequently then the West Seattle ferries, based on the number if times they have to use backup boats to cover runs due to breakdowns.

    • WSB November 1, 2011 (8:24 pm)

      Well, assuming you are talking about Washington State Ferries vessels – the larger boats are newer. The megaboats on the Bainbridge run, for example, were built at then-Todd around the turn of the millennium. The Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth run generally has either Issaquah class or Evergreen State class boats – the latter being from the late ’50s; the former I believe from the ’70s (if someone is more of a ferry wonk than me, please correct, I started looking it up but got sidetracked). I think the Rhododendron on the Tahlequah-Point Defiance run may be older, but it’s going to be replaced by one of the brand-new Kwa-di-Tabil class ferries.

  • Fiwa Jcbbb November 1, 2011 (9:55 pm)

    Huzzah for locally built stuff! Huzzah for government-funded infrastructure!

  • bridge to somewhere November 1, 2011 (9:56 pm)

    Thanks WSB. I think the West Seattle ferries are newer than that–but I don’t think they were actually designed to be utilitarian ferries. But I don’t know much of anything about boats.

  • David November 1, 2011 (11:43 pm)

    Info about ferries in the WA state fleet can be found at:

    The boats you’ll likely see on the Fauntleroy runs are:

    M/V Evergreen State
    Year Built / Re-built: 1954 / 1988

    M/V Klahowya
    Year Built / Re-built: 1958 / 1995

    M/V Tillikum
    Year Built / Re-built: 1959 / 1994

    M/V Issaquah
    Year Built / Re-built: 1979 / 1989

    So 3 of the 4 boats that typically show up in West Seattle are over 50 years old.

    • WSB November 1, 2011 (11:47 pm)

      Thanks. Klahowya and Tillikum are the most frequent of the Evergreen State class on the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth run … and previously, until the early-20th-century steel-electrics were retired, one of those was often the third boat!

  • bridge to somewhere November 2, 2011 (7:55 am)

    Oh sorry, I meant literally the West Seattle-Seattle run. The small boats–I thought they are called the West Seattle Ferry?

    • WSB November 2, 2011 (9:10 am)

      Bridge – King County Water Taxi. Its regular boat, the Rachel Marie, has had a fair amount of trouble in recent months. The county is planning to build new boats that it’ll own – these are leased – to replace it and the Melissa Ann, its twin, which handles the county-run Vashon-downtown run. (The state used to operate the Vashon-downtown passenger ferry, and one for Bremerton-downtown, but decided to get out of that business, and the county took it over.)

  • JAT November 2, 2011 (9:09 am)

    Much as I enjoy visitors and recent arrivals struggle pronouncing Klahowya (to say nothing of Puyallup or Sequim or Yakima), and as glad that I am that local boats are being built locally, I’ve go no idea how to pronounce Kwa-di-Tabil.

    Mostly I miss the Klickitat, because that’s the noise it made when it hit choppy water.

    • WSB November 2, 2011 (9:23 am)

      jAT – I loved the old steel-electrics myself (as a ferry geek), with their line of round “windows” on the car deck, the brass railings … was sorry not to get a chance for one last trip when it was abruptly announced they were all being scrapped. – TR

  • greg November 2, 2011 (9:27 am)

    The Klahowya had a great year last with “no lost trips” due to Mechanical. Considering the “Ping-Pong” type route these are some of the most reliable in the system.

    The Rhody is 63 years old and being replaced by the first of the 64 car class, the Chetzemoka. It has many more names that are not so polite, but accurate. Love it when we get more hand me downs.

  • CD November 2, 2011 (11:50 am)

    Lets save a lot of money and engineer/build them out of state, bottom line it will be a better vessel. I’m all for supporting the local economy but not Vigor.

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