Regular passengers on the ferry between Seattle and Bremerton may notice something new this summer: A brand-new ship, the MV Chimacum.
Before Chimacum is ready for passengers, WSF crews will outfit the vessel and complete training and drills. Once Chimacum starts its regular route, it will replace the 59-year-old Klahowya.
The boat is an Olympic-class ferry, the newest class of boat to join the fleet. Chimacum will be the third in this class. Tokitae, the first, joined the fleet on the Mukilteo to Clinton route in June 2014; Samish started running the San Juan Islands route in June 2015.
All ferries in the class are built at Harbor Island Shipyard by shipbuilder Vigor.
Washington State Ferries (WSF) calls Chimacum a “carbon copy of Samish and Tokitae.” The boats have more seating, including seats for 284 people on the sun deck alone.
Wider car decks have more wiggle room and space for vehicles with cargo on top. The new boats increase accessibility with wider, gentler stairwells and two accessible elevators.
Overall capacity will increase, too. Passenger capacity will nearly double from the Klahowya, from 792 to 1500. The car deck has space for 144 vehicles, or 57 more.
The vessels are a little more environmentally-friendly, with low-emission diesel engines.
The name Chimacum, like all current names for ferries in the WSF fleet, is a reference to the state’s native heritage. What’s now the town of Chimacum, Washington near Port Townsend was originally the gathering space of the Chemakum people.
A fourth Olympic class vessel, the Suquamish, is scheduled for delivery in late 2018. These boats are slowly replacing older ferries, largely built in the 1950s and 1960s, like the recently-decommissioned MV Evergreen State.