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State leaders celebrate the first of three new 144-car ferries
SEATTLE — State elected, transportation and manufacturing leaders were on hand March 20 to celebrate the christening of the state's first 144-car Olympic Class ferry, the M/V Tokitae, at Vigor Industrial's shipyard in Seattle.
Lynn Peterson, Washington's Secretary of Transportation, served as the ship's sponsor and broke a bottle to christen the new ferry before a crowd of more than 200 people. Speakers at the ceremony explained that the vessels will ensure safe, reliable ferry service, save taxpayers money and provide jobs for the state's maritime workforce.
The Tokitae is the first of three 144-car ferries planned to replace the state's aging Evergreen State-class 87-car ferries, all of which are about 60 years old. The second 144-car ferry, the Samish, is under construction now at Vigor Industrial.
Following sea trials and crew training, the Tokitae will enter service on the Mukilteo-Clinton route in June. The Samish is expected to serve the San Juan Islands beginning early next year.
Washington lawmakers also approved funding for a third 144-car ferry during the recently completed legislative session. The 144-car third ferry, still unnamed, will be built by Vigor and likely serve the Seattle-Bremerton route.