Washington State Ferries converts vessels to hybrid-electric power

Washington State Ferries has awarded its first shipyard contract to Vigor for the conversion of up to three Jumbo Mark II-class ferries to hybrid-electric power.

While converting WSF’s largest ferries to hybrid-electric power, Vigor will also update aging propulsion system controls to extend the life expectancy of these vessels. The contract is for conversion of two vessels at approximately $100 million with a fixed-price option to convert the third vessel in 2025.

Conversion of the state’s largest ferries to hybrid-electric power marks WSF’s first step toward electrification of the ferry system. This innovative initiative drastically reduces greenhouse gas emissions and prepares Washington for a changing climate. The program will:

  • Retrofit six current diesel ferries to hybrid electric.
  • Build 16 new hybrid vessels.
  • Retire 13 diesel ferries.
  • Add charging power to 16 terminals.

WSF is the largest ferry system in the U.S. and the biggest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions among Washington state agencies, burning 19 million gallons of diesel fuel to support tens of millions of passengers every year.

We’re tackling the biggest emitters in our fleet first, the Jumbo Mark IIs, which contribute 26% of our ferries’ greenhouse gas emissions. When our terminals are electrified in 2026, we expect emissions from these three vessels to drop by roughly 95%.

… said Matt von Ruden, System Electrification Program Administrator.

In addition to the hybrid-electric conversion, the contract includes planned replacement of the propulsion control systems. The three vessels are experiencing equipment failures and replacement parts are often unavailable. This effort will increase reliability and ensure the Jumbo Mark IIs are available for decades to come.

This September, Vigor will start work on Wenatchee at its Harbor Island shipyard in Seattle. The ferry is expected to reenter service on the Seattle/Bainbridge route next summer. Vigor will then begin converting Tacoma in 2024. WSF has the option to extend the contract to convert a third boat, Puyallup, in 2025.

Our long history with WSF makes Vigor the best place to help propel our ferry system into a low-emission, sustainable future which supports family-wage jobs all across Puget Sound.

… stated Adam Beck, Vigor executive vice president of ship repair


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