On September 9th, Washington State Ferries (WSF) and Vigor’s Seattle shipyard marked the beginning of the WSF fleet’s greening. Earlier in the year, the Washington legislature authorized a contract extension for Vigor to build up to five 144-car Olympic-class, hybrid-electric ferries over the coming years for WSF – the largest ferry system in the United States. Greening of the ferry fleet has been a major objective for WSF and is an important part of Washington’s overarching goal to accelerate the state’s move toward a clean energy future.
Vigor has built the last 12 ferries in the WSF fleet and has actively engaged in the evolution of hybrid-electric solutions. The Olympic-class hull form is one of the most efficient in the fleet with less drag through the water and a small wake for a reduced environmental impact. The new hybrid vessels will utilize this hull form as well. 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 under way. Vigor expects to begin construction in late 2020, and delivery of the first ferry is anticipated late in 2022. WSF’s long-range plan calls for all five ferries to be delivered by 2028, replacing aging vessels in the fleet.