• Major Project

Ferry system electrification

Tokitae out on the harbor

Major Project overview

Washington State Ferries (WSF) is embarking on an ambitious initiative to begin the transition to an emission-free fleet through a hybrid electric ferry system. WSF operates the largest ferry system in the United States. It is also the biggest contributor or greenhouse gas emissions of any state agency in Washington, burning 19 million gallons of diesel fuel to support 24 million passengers every year.

This shift to hybrid electric ferries is in response to governor and legislative direction as well as alignment with the agency’s own long-range planning initiatives. To transition to a hybrid electric fleet, WSF is working on the three key elements of the electrification system – building new vessels, converting vessels, and electrifying the terminals.

Timeline overview


Major project status



$1.33 billion secured funding | $3.98 billion total estimated cost

Major project alerts

Through a competitive process completed in Nov. 2022, WSF selected Hill International, Inc. and its team to serve as the General Engineering Consultant (GEC) for the electrification program.
Suanne Pelley
Major Construction Communications Manager

Current and upcoming solicitations

Hybrid electric Olympic Class vessels

WSF will post a draft of the design-build Request for Proposal (RFP) for up to five HEOC vessels to the Washington State Ferries (WSF) contracting website as soon as it is ready for industry review. An email notice will be sent to “Interested Parties”. WSF will accept comments on the Draft RFP before issuing the final RFP in spring 2023. It is noteworthy that we have decided to implement a shore-based charging system, which differs from the initial concepts discussed at Industry Day.

All parties who registered for the Oct. 6, 2022, Industry Day event are already on the Interested Parties list. Others who want to be added to the interested parties list to receive notifications about the upcoming RFP, please email WSFelectrification@wsdot.wa.gov.

The Request for Information (RFI) for a new design-build contract for five hybrid electric Olympic class (HEOC) vessels is now closed, but can be viewed at the WSF contracting website.

WSF hosted an Industry Day for interested firms on Oct. 6, 2022, in advance of Request for Proposals (RFP). A recording of the presentation and the PowerPoint presentation can be viewed on the  WSF contracting website. All who registered for the Industry Day event are included in the “Interested Parties” list for the RFP.

Conversions of the Jumbo Mark II vessels

On March 28, 2023 WSF posted the Invitation for Bid to convert three Jumbo Mark II vessels to hybrid electric on the Washington State Ferries Contracts webpage. Please see Contract Number 00-9955 for the “Jumbo Mark II Class Ferries Hybrid-Electric Propulsion System Upgrade. The IFB documents are each available in PDF format. Several amendments have been issued to the original IFB, including Amendment 5 (PDF), which states the bid due date is now 06/15/2023.

WSF looks forward to selecting a shipbuilder to launch this critical first step in developing a hybrid electric system which will reduce our reliance on, and use of, diesel fuel and lower greenhouse gas emissions from the fleet. The Wenatchee is the first vessel that will be converted, followed by the Tacoma and the Puyallup. The converted Wenatchee will be delivered to the shipyard service to be back in service for the summer 2024 season. Conversions of the Tacoma and the Puyallup will follow in the subsequent two years.

Spring 2023 electrification update

Jumbo Mark II Conversions

Our biggest news is the launch of the Invitation for Bid for the Jumbo Mark II vessels. Converting the three largest vessels in the WSF fleet means that we are tackling the biggest emissions culprits, with 26% of greenhouse gases coming from these three vessels alone. This conversion will reduce emissions from these vessels initially by more than 20% and by nearly 95% when terminals are electrified in 2026.

WSF is actively working to minimize the impacts on service while these conversions are underway. While we are converting the three Jumbo Mark II vessels to hybrid electric, we will be replacing the outdated propulsion control systems, which are overdue for replacement. The three vessels are experiencing equipment failures and replacement parts are now often unavailable. It is urgent that we replace the propulsion control systems on the current schedule if we are to sustain vessel reliability. By combining this critical propulsion control work along with the hybrid conversion, we can accomplish both activities in this same period. This ensures the most efficient work schedule and minimizes future service disruptions. 

Hybrid electric Olympic Class vessels 

Some of you may have read about bills in the 2023 legislative session that address how WSF will procure the five funded hybrid electric Olympic class vessels, or HEOCs. Due to the potential change in legislative direction on new vessel procurement, our planned Request for Proposal in spring 2023 is on hold until the legislative session ends, likely at the end of April. We will update this webpage and the HEOC interested parties once these policy issues have been decided. 

Terminal electrification

WSF continues to work with multiple utilities that provide electrical service to the terminals. In Sept. 2022, WSF and Seattle City Light signed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding our upcoming work together to power Colman Dock for the hybrid electric vessels. WSF looks forward to establishing a similar partnership with Puget Sound Energy in the near future. Initial engineering and design are underway to build the necessary infrastructure to charge the vessels.

Additional resources

For a primer on WSF’s electrification efforts, please see this video:

For a more in-depth look at our ferry electrification efforts, watch the extended video.