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Work started on Kitsap Transit’s low-wake ferry
82-foot catamaran expected to be delivered in March.
The design work is nearly complete on the low-wake ferry vessel being built in Bellingham for Kitsap Transit, according to a report presented to the agency’s board of commissioners last week.
Four Seasons Marine Services, which is based in Alaska, is overseeing the construction of the boat, an 82-foot catamaran that Kitsap Transit hopes will revive fast foot ferry service between Kitsap County and Seattle.
Loren Gerhard, vice president of operations for Four Seasons Marine Services, said the vessel’s design is “mostly done” and the “composite cabin is 50 percent complete.”
In April, the agency’s board of commissioners approved plans to spend up to $5.35 million in federal funds to complete the Rich Passage Wake Study and build a low-wake, prototype vessel,” the resolution states.
At the time, Kitsap Transit officials said they had completed a general design for the prototype and hired All American Marine and its naval architect Teknicraft to build the vessel.
According to specifications presented by Gerhard, the vessel will be constructed from “high-tensile aluminum” and carry 118 passengers, up to four crew members and 800 gallons of fuel.
He said its composite cabin and carbon fiber driveline offer weight savings, its exhaust filters reduce emissions and it has computers and sensors to evaluate its wake.
Its composite foil was developed with Western Washington University.
The timeline for the rest of the boat’s construction:
• Mid-September, finish hull plate
• Early October, install cabin
• Early January, install engines, jets
• Early February, launch
• March, deliver the vessel
To pay for the prototype, Kitsap Transit had received $5.05 million in federal funds and was anticipating receipt of $2.45 million more in federal stimulus funds, or the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. All of those funds have been “earmarked for prototype vessel design, vessel construction, test operations and dock improvements.”
“We think this is the right boat and we have to have faith that it is,” said Dick Hayes, executive director of Kitsap Transit, explaining the prototype was actually a “partial hydrofoil,” which had been tested extensively in Puget Sound waters.
However, if the boat ultimately proves unsuccessful for crossing the Sound, Hayes said “we could always use the vessel (for the foot ferry route) between Bremerton and Port Orchard. It is too much boat for (that route), but we’ve been dealing for a long time with too little boat.”