Suquamish shipbuilder Vigor took the new vessel out on sea trials in July 2018. In this photo, the Olympic class ferry is in Elliott Bay with Seattle’s Discovery Park in the background. (Washington State Ferries)

Suquamish shipbuilder Vigor took the new vessel out on sea trials in July 2018. In this photo, the Olympic class ferry is in Elliott Bay with Seattle’s Discovery Park in the background. (Washington State Ferries)

Brand spanking new ferry Suquamish launches into service

With room for 144 vehicles and 1,500 passengers, there should be smoother sailing on the Whidbey route.

MUKILTEO — The state’s newest workhorse made an unexpected splash Thursday afternoon.

The ferry Suquamish was launched into service a few days earlier than planned on the Mukilteo-Clinton route.

And it’s going to keep sailing back-and-forth on the busy passage.

The Suquamish had passed necessary sea trials since it was completed in July. Thursday was the first time it carried paying passengers.

“It’s running and doing its thing,” Washington State Ferries spokesman Ian Sterling said.

The ferry’s name means “people of the clear salt water” in the Suquamish Tribe’s traditional language.

It cost $122 million to construct, in addition to equipment provided by state ferries, and was made by ship builder Vigor Industrial in Seattle.

“It has Tier 4 diesel engines, which are the cleanest in the fleet,” Sterling said.

The Olympic Class ferry has the capacity for 144 vehicles and 1,500 passengers. It’s the fourth ferry in this class and the second on the Mukilteo-Clinton run.

“Those are beautiful boats. They hit it right when they built this class,” said Mark Edvardsen, a ferry captain on the route.

The Suquamish replaces a ferry holding 124 vehicles, so now both boats will be of equal size.

“It’s going to make it a lot more pleasant for the people who commute,” Edvardsen said. “Twenty cars for a half hour might not seem like much, but it actually adds up over a period of a day. The lines won’t be as long. We just pull up the boat and go.”

It is green-and-white, like all the other ferries.

How can people tell them apart from shore?

Look at the name plate.

Passengers will notice, though.

“The Suquamish people put a lot into the art and the interior decoration of the ferry,” Sterling said.

Oh, and another thing …

“It’s got that new boat smell,” he said.

Andrea Brown: abrown@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3443. Twitter @reporterbrown.

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