Washington State Ferries Vessels & Terminals - Vessel improvements

On this page:

Vessel improvements

Performance analysis

FY2022

WSF vessel improvements continue to focus on hybrid-electric conversions

WSF is continuing to pursue hybrid-electric conversion of the Jumbo Mark II class vessels in the 2021-2023 biennium.

Along with a planned propulsion control system replacement preservation project, the M/V Wenatchee will undergo an extensive conversion to hybrid-electric propulsion. Funded primarily through a $35 million grant from Washington State Department of Ecology (Washington's allocation of federal Volkswagen settlement mitigation trust funds), this project will establish WSF as a leader in sustainable marine transportation. The project replaces two of the four diesel generators with two lithium-ion energy storage banks. Design work was completed, and materials were procured during the 2019-2021 biennium and construction is scheduled for September 2023-June 2024.

The M/V Wenatchee will initially operate in hybrid-electric mode with approximately a 25% reduction in fuel consumption. Once terminal electrification is complete, the vessel will operate in full battery mode, with a fuel consumption savings of approximately 95%. With additional funding provided in the 2022 Move Ahead Washington package, the conversions of M/V Tacoma and M/V Puyallup are also funded, so WSF intends to bid this work as a three-vessel contract. M/V Tacoma is scheduled to be completed between September 2024-June 2025, and M/V Puyallup is scheduled to be completed September 2025-June 2026. Once all three vessels are converted, this program is expected to save nearly five million gallons of fuel each year, with corresponding reductions in CO2, NOx and particulates. The preliminary lifecycle cost analysis projects a net savings of $60 million over the remaining 40-year service life of these vessels.

New hybrid-electric propulsion vessels in the works

The legislature authorized the extension of the Olympic class new construction program, including an update of the design to include hybrid-electric propulsion, and construction of up to five vessels. With the addition of $836.7 million from the 2022 Move Ahead Washington package, a total of $1.055 billion is available.

While the contractor completed the design update for the vessels to incorporate hybrid-electric propulsion, WSF and the contractor were unable to agree on terms or price for vessel construction. As a result, WSF is proceeding to issue a new request for proposals for a design-build contract in accordance with Revised Code of Washington and anticipates the contract to be awarded in March 2024. The first vessel is expected to be delivered in late 2027. Once all five vessels are delivered, WSF projects a savings of 300 million gallons of diesel fuel over 60 years, and $55 million in life-cycle cost savings.

FY2021

WSF vessel improvements include hybrid-electric conversions

The most significant improvement planned in the 2021-2023 biennium is the hybrid-electric conversion of the Jumbo Mark II class vessels.

In conjunction with planned propulsion control system replacement preservation project, the M/V Wenatchee will undergo an extensive conversion to hybridelectric propulsion. Funded primarily through a $35 million grant from Washington State Department of Ecology (Washington's allocation of federal Volkswagen settlement mitigation trust funds), this project will establish WSF as a leader in sustainable marine transportation. The project replaces two of the four diesel generators with two lithium-ion energy storage banks. Design work was completed and materials procured during the 2019- 2021 biennium and construction is scheduled for April-September 2023.

The M/V Wenatchee will initially operate in hybrid-electric mode with approximately a 25% reduction in fuel consumption. Once terminal electrification is complete, the vessel will operate in full battery mode, with a fuel consumption savings of approximately 95%. WSF will continue to seek funding for sister vessels: the M/V Tacoma and M/V Puyallup. Once all three vessels are converted, this program will save nearly five million gallons of fuel each year, with corresponding reductions in CO2, NOx and particulates. The preliminary lifecycle cost analysis projects a net savings of $60 million over the remaining 40-year service life of these vessels.

New hybrid-electric propulsion vessels in the works

The legislature authorized the extension of the Olympic class new construction program, including an update of the design to include hybrid-electric propulsion, and construction of up to five additional vessels.

The first vessel and long lead time materials for the second vessel received $187 million from the 2019-2021 and 2021-2023 biennia budgets. The first two vessels will be assigned to the Clinton/Mukilteo and Seattle/Bremerton routes.

The functional design update is nearly completed and under US Coast Guard design review. The propulsion system includes lithium-ion energy storage, a direct current grid power distribution system, and four permanent magnet motors.

WSF is negotiating final terms and conditions with a design-build contractor and construction could begin as soon as February 2023 with delivery in mid-2025.

Once all five vessels are delivered, WSF projects a savings of 300 million gallons of diesel fuel over 60 years, and $55 million in lifecycle cost savings.

FY2020

WSF pursues vessel electrification

WSF is working to electrify its fleet to meet the legislative requirements for greenhouse gas reduction, including a 2030 goal of being 45% below 2005 GHG levels for state agencies. Ongoing efforts include completing a System-wide Electrification Plan, converting the 202-vehicle Jumbo Mark II vessels to hybrid electric propulsion, and constructing a hybrid electric Olympic class of vessels. The WSF System-wide Electrification Plan is nearing completion and will include:

  • Technology assessment;
  • Vessel requirements and feasibility analysis
  • Terminal requirements and feasibility analysis;
  • Construction project schedule;
  • Workforce assessment;
  • Financial model; and
  • Emissions impact estimate


Jumbo Mark II class electrification

The M/V Wenatchee, a Jumbo Mark II class vessel, will undergo an extensive conversion to hybrid-electric propulsion during the 2021-2023 biennium. This project is funded by a $35 million grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology and $8 million in federal grants. It will establish WSF as a leader in sustainable marine transportation.

The project replaces two of the four diesel generators with two lithium-Ion battery banks. The design was completed in the 2019-2021 biennium and construction is scheduled for December 2021 through May 2022. Initially, the vessel will operate in hybrid-electric mode and achieve a reduction in fuel consumption of approximately 25%. WSF is also planning to electrify terminals; once terminal electrification is complete, the vessel will operate in full battery mode, with a fuel consumption savings of approximately 95%.

WSF will continue to seek funding to electrify the other Jumbo MK II vessels: M/V Tacoma and M/V Puyallup. Once all three vessels are converted, WSF estimates it will save nearly five million gallons of fuel per year, with a corresponding reduction in CO2, NOx and other pollutants. The preliminary life cyclecost analysis projects a net savings of $60 million over the remaining 40-year service life of these vessels.

Hybrid electric vessel construction

The legislature authorized an extension of the Olympic class vessel construction contract for up to five Hybrid Electric Olympic class vessels and has appropriated funding for the first vessel. Construction was originally scheduled to begin in December 2020, but is now planned for December 2021. Delays were the result of several factors, including contract negotiations, unanticipated design challenges, and changes in both shipyard leadership and WSF staff. The final vessel price has not been established.

FY2019

WSF pursues vessel electrification in FY2019

WSF is working to electrify its fleet in alignment with an executive order from Gov. Jay Inslee. Ongoing efforts include converting the Jumbo Mark II vessels to hybrid electric propulsion, designing and constructing hybrid electric Olympic class of vessels, and completing a Ferry System Electrification Study.

The 202-vehicle Jumbo Mark II class ferries are due for planned maintenance (mid-life propulsion system replacements), which provides an opportunity to upgrade them with minimal impacts on service. The design will replace two of four diesel engines with lithium ion energy storage systems and develop a rapid charging system capable of recharging ferries during each terminal stop. In addition to fuel cost savings and reduced maintenance costs, converting the Jumbo Mark II class vessels will reduce CO2 emissions by 48,565 metric tons per year—comparable to taking more than 10,000 cars off the road. Hybrid ferries would also cut NOx emissions, a toxic form of air pollution, by 184.5 metric tons per year once the Jumbo Mark II Class ferries are operating with hybrid electric propulsion.

The WSF 2040 Long Range Plan emphasizes the urgent need to build five additional Olympic Class vessels. The legislature authorized an extension of the Olympic Class vessel construction contract (for up to five 144-vehicle vessels). Construction on the first vessel is scheduled to begin in the 2019-2021 biennium.

The new hybrid electric Olympic Class vessels will be capable of traveling from Seattle to Bremerton on battery power alone. They will also emit lower levels of underwater noise to reduce the impact on the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales. The vessels are tentatively earmarked for the Clinton/Mukilteo and Seattle/Bremerton routes.

In accordance with the Washington State Legislature's direction, WSDOT has started developing the WSF System Electrification Plan, an addendum to the WSF 2040 Long Range Plan. This plan will evaluate alternatives and propose the best way to deploy hybrid electric vessels throughout the ferry system. WSF will complete the plan by June 30, 2020.

FY2018

WSF vessel spending needs attention during 2017-2019 biennium

Among the seven vessel classes, the Issaquah Class accounted for almost 30% of originally projected improvement and preservation expenditures for the 2017-2019 biennium. It was followed closely by the Jumbo and Jumbo Mark II classes.

However, the average expenditures on per vessel basis have been considerably more for the Jumbo Class and Jumbo Mark II Class vessels than the Issaquah Class vessels. Funds originally planned to address issues on the heavily used Issaquah Class vessels were diverted to a steel replacement project on the aging M/V Elwha, a Super Class vessel.

Super Class vessels, which were originally slated to have $13.7 million in work done, ended up needing more than $34.4 million in vessel preservation and improvement dollars in the 2017-2019 biennium.

Top of page