Washington State Ferries operates the largest ferry system in the United States. Twenty-two ferries cross Puget Sound and its inland waterways, carrying more than 22 million passengers to 20 different ports of call. From Tacoma, Washington, to Sidney, British Columbia, we travel up and down the Sound, acting as a marine highway for commercial users, tourists and daily commuters alike.
There are approximately 1800 dedicated employees who have made Washington State Ferries the most popular tourist attraction in the State.
In the fleet, the Captain (or Master) supervises the entire ship's operation from the pilothouse, which is the communications and navigation center of the ship. The Chief Mate assists the Captain with the operation of the vessel, often including loading and unloading operations. Except when docking or in tight quarters, the steering of the ship is generally left to the quartermaster who follows the directions of the bridge officer. Able-bodied Seamen (AB) and Ordinary Seamen (OS) work as deckhands, directing vehicles, securing lines when the ship docks, acting as lookouts, patrolling the vessel for safety hazards, and cleaning the vessel.
Beneath the car deck, the engine room and control center are supervised by the Chief Engineer, who oversees repairs and maintenance to the vessel's mechanical and electrical equipment. The Chief Engineer and the Assistant Engineer also monitor all the control systems and in some instances, control the speed and direction of the vessel, following the Captain's commands. The Oiler assists the Engineers by circulating through all the machinery spaces, ensuring that everything is operating correctly.