Construction officially begins on state’s newest ferry, Suquamish

Gov. Jay Inslee, state Sen. Christine Rolfes, and Suquamish Tribe Chairman Leonard Forsman struck ceremonial welds on the keel of the Suquamish at Vigor’s Harbor Island Shipyard in Seattle.

SEATTLE — Construction officially began May 10 on the Suquamish, the state’s newest Olympic Class ferry.

Gov. Jay Inslee, state Sen. Christine Rolfes, and Suquamish Tribe Chairman Leonard Forsman struck ceremonial welds on the keel of the Suquamish at Vigor’s Harbor Island Shipyard in Seattle. Inslee welded his granddaughter’s initials; Rolfes, an orca whale; and Forsman, a circle with a dot, the ancient design element found at Old Man House, the early Suquamish winter village.

Traditionally, a keel-laying ceremony is said to bring good luck during construction and to the captain and crew who will operate the vessel.

Replacing an aging fleet
The Suquamish’s keel-laying ceremony comes only weeks after significant progress was made on the third Olympic Class vessel, Chimacum. Last month, the Chimacum’s superstructure was joined to its hull in drydock at Vigor. Construction on the Chimacum is now about 75 percent complete, according to WSF.

“The simultaneous construction of two vessels is exciting,” WSF director of vessels Matt Von Ruden said in a press release about the event. “We hope to continue investing in long-term ferry build programs to keep up with our increasing ridership and replace our aging fleet.”

The 144-car Suquamish is the fourth Olympic Class vessel and has not yet been assigned to a route. The first Olympic class vessel, Tokitae, joined the Mukilteo/Clinton route in June 2014. The second, Samish, was put into service on the Anacortes/San Juan Islands route in June 2015. Chimacum will replace one of the older vessels on the Seattle/Bremerton route in 2017.

 

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