PORT ORCHARD — M/V Solano, a 125-foot power catamaran purchased last Friday by Kitsap Transit from the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA), could possibly ply the high-speed passenger-only ferry route between downtown Seattle and Southworth.
According to Kitsap Transit, M/V Solano, which can travel at 32.5 knots with a full load, was purchased for approximately $1 million from the California ferry operator and will soon be added to Kitsap Transit’s passenger-only fleet.
The purchase price was a comparative bargain. WETA had listed Solano for sale through a broker for more than $4 million, but the COVID-19 pandemic weakened the market for used vessels, Kitsap Transit said. The agency said in a news release that the sale includes spare parts valued at approximately $2 million as part of the purchase price.
“This is a great opportunity for us to expand the fleet but also to provide a greater level of reliability to our community in the form of a first-class spare vessel,” said John Clauson, Kitsap Transit’s executive director.
Clauson said his agency plans to have Solano transported from Mare Island, California, to Bremerton and then to a dry dock in the Puget Sound region for re-branding, new upholstery and replacement of worn parts.
Kitsap Transit also will explore the feasibility of modifying the vessel to load passengers from the vessel’s bow. As a bow-loading vessel, Solano could potentially serve as a spare on Kitsap Transit’s planned Southworth-Seattle route, which is expected to begin later this year.
Solano entered service in the Bay Area in 2004, operating on the City of Vallejo’s BayLink service until ferry operations were transitioned to WETA and rebranded as San Francisco Bay Ferry.