Today is the final day of the two-month test run for passenger-ferry service between Des Moines and Downtown Seattle. It’s been running four round trips a day, Wednesdays through Saturdays, and should be just now wrapping up its last trip. This past week, in the test run’s final days, a group of West Seattle residents emailed the city of Des Moines to voice concerns about the vessel chartered for the test, the Chilkat Express, saying it’s the loudest boat on the water, and fearing it could have an adverse effect on noise-sensitive Southern Resident Killer Whales. Their letter, on which we were copied, suggested that while Des Moines makes its decision on whether to bring back the service, they should plan to at least engage with noise-reduction initiatives. We followed up with the Des Moines department operating the service, which replied, “One thing to note is that the vessel in operation is primarily used as a whale watching boat and its operation is highly sensitive to that environment so if there was a concern in the area that it’s operating in, we believe it would have undoubtably been noted.” The West Seattle group also contacted the organization that’s been leading the Quiet Sound ship-noise-reduction program; their reply noted that their initial efforts haven’t included passenger vessels but they do have a workgroup in that area, led by Washington State Ferries, and would invite the Chilkat Express’s operator Puget Sound Express to join if they wind up continuing passenger service for Des Moines. Regarding that “if,” the Des Moines plan is to review how the trial period went, but they told us they don’t have a timeline for that review yet.
West Seattle, Washington