Feds award $7.7 million grant for zero-emission passenger ferry

Grant money will support design, build of an electric foot ferry for Port Orchard-Bremerton route

PORT ORCHARD — Foot ferry vessels plying the waters between Port Orchard and Bremerton will soon be examples of a new generation of marine transport: those that are either hybrid-electric or all-electric vessels.

Kitsap Transit announced Tuesday that it has been awarded a $7.7 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to design and construct an all-electric foot ferry and install shoreside charging infrastructure at the Bremerton ferry terminal.

The agency said in a news release that the grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Passenger Ferry Grant Program will support the design and construction of a battery-electric foot ferry modeled after Kitsap Transit’s M/V Waterman, a hybrid-electric foot ferry that operates the Port Orchard-Bremerton route.

Earlier this month, the Washington state Legislature showcased a Democratic-led $16 billion transportation package that would provide Kitsap Transit with $6.5 million to support the zero-emission ferry project.

“This FTA grant, coupled with funding from the state’s historic transportation package, will help us build and support a sustainable, environmentally-friendly fleet,” said John Clauson, Kitsap Transit’s executive director. “These two funding sources will support the construction of an all-electric local ferry and install the infrastructure necessary to charge the vessel.”

Clauson said he was appreciative of the efforts of Washington state Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, as well as U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, in pushing for investments in clean transportation infrastructure.

Kitsap Transit took delivery in 2019 of the M/V Waterman, the first hybrid-diesel ferry to operate commercial service on Puget Sound. It was designed by Glosten and built by All American Marine. The new ferry will be modeled after the Waterman’s design, with minimal modifications to the hull and “significant design changes to the propulsion system.”

“The Waterman uses a generator to charge a battery bank and operates on battery power while idling and loading passengers, reducing carbon-dioxide emissions and increasing the efficiency of its diesel engine,” the agency noted in its release.

The grant reportedly will cover 80% of the design cost and construction of the vessel. Kitsap Transit will provide a required 20% local match.