Future Mukilteo ferry coming together

Superstructure joins hull at Harbor Island Shipyard
Aug 23, 2017
Courtesy of: Jesse Co. This photo shows the 144-car ferry Suquamish’s superstructure moored at Jesse Co.’s fabrication facility near the Port of Tacoma.

About a year before its scheduled official launch as the newest member of Washington State Ferries’ fleet, the superstructure of the 144-car ferry Suquamish was moved Wednesday, Aug. 16, by barge from Jesse Co.’s fabrication facility near the Port of Tacoma to Vigor’s Harbor Island Shipyard in Seattle.

The 1,110-ton superstructure, which took 18 months to construct at Jesse Engineering in Tacoma, travelled up the Puget Sound and arrived at Harbor Island in Seattle early Thursday morning.

The movement of the superstructure, or top half, of the 362-foot vessel is not only a major milestone but also illustrative of the wide-ranging jobs and economic impact of building ferries in this state.

Jesse Co. is one of more than a dozen subcontractors working with Vigor on the Suquamish, the state’s fourth new Olympia Class ferry. Each 144-car ferry built in Washington generates up to 560 direct jobs at shipyards and subcontractors, and a total of 1,300 direct, indirect and induced jobs in the Puget Sound region.

“We take great pride in helping build quality ferries for the State of Washington,” Phil Jesse, General Manager of Jesse Co. said. “The work is important, the jobs are great, and our families and future generations are able to ride and watch the ferries travel on Puget Sound for many years to come.”

In some 12 hours, the superstructure was joined with the Suquamish hull, the bottom half, which was built on Harbor Island. Completing the construction of the vessel with all necessary engineering, propulsion, electrical, safety and other components prior to sea trials will take approximately 11 more months.

The ferry will join the fleet in fall 2018 and operate on the Mukilteo/Clinton route from mid-May until mid-October, when ferry travel is at its peak. The rest of the year, it will serve multiple routes as a maintenance relief boat for both the Super class and other Olympic class ferries.

The Suquamish will be the fourth and final currently authorized addition of new Olympic Class 144-car ferries to the WSF fleet, following the Tokitae in 2014, Samish in 2015 and Chimacum earlier this year. Construction cost of the Olympic Class 144-car ferries has been within one percent of the projected budget on each vessel.

“Building these ferries is extremely gratifying to our workers and helps strengthen our company and the maritime industry,” Vigor CEO Frank Foti said. “The skills and expertise required are essential to maritime, and the middle-income manufacturing jobs provide great opportunity for industrial artisans and help diversify the economy.”

Maritime is a $30 billion industry for the state of Washington and provides more than 148,000 jobs, according to a study by the Economic Development Council and Workforce Development Council of Seattle and King County.

Washington State ferries are built to serve for 60 years with appropriate maintenance. That’s the longest lifespan of virtually any vessel fleet. In comparison, the U.S. Navy typically retires vessels after 35 years, the Coast Guard after 30 years, and BC Ferries at 40 years.

Washington’s ferry system is the largest in the country because of the geography that needs to be traversed and because so many people, communities and businesses depend on it as an essential marine highway. Ridership eclipsed 24 million in 2016, the highest total in 13 years, and is expected to continue to grow.

The ferry system is also one of the top tourist attractions in the state. Tourism is the state’s fourth largest industry, generating $1.8 billion in state and local tax revenue annually and supporting 170,500 jobs.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Joe Kunzler | Aug 23, 2017 13:33

I'm very happy to see Mukilteo-Clinton get a second Olympic-class ferry.  Ferry nice.

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