2/16/2012--Seattle, WA, USA
Washington State’s newest 144-car ferry is underway.
The very first metal plates of the state’s new ferry were welded in place on schedule today by workers at Vigor Industrial’s Harbor Island shipyard in Seattle. Two years, 2917 tons of steel and more than half-a-million Washington worker-hours later, the new 144-car ferry will sail the waters of Puget Sound.
Today’s plates are the first pieces of the hull, which is being assembled by Vigor Industrial’s US Fab subsidiary. The upper half of the vessel, above the car-deck level, will be crafted on Whidbey Island while end sections are manufactured in Tacoma. The large sections will later be assembled in Seattle, with final outfitting in Everett.
This will be the ninth Washington State Ferry built at the Harbor Island shipyard. The keel section will be laid in place in the next six to eight weeks. The completed ferry will sail the waters of Puget Sound starting in 2014.
The vessel, as yet unnamed, is designed to carry up to 144 cars and 1500 passengers at a time, up to a million or more passengers each year into the mid-21st century. The new ferry will have 50 percent more capacity than the Evergreen State class vessel it will replace as those older ferries reach the 60-year mark. Additional new ferries are envisioned to replace other parts of the fleet; nine of WSF’s vessels are currently between 40 and 65 years old.
Photograph by Stuart Isett/Vigor