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Names chosen for newest Washington state ferries: Salish and Kennewick

The Chetzemoka leaves Todd Pacific Shipyards for Everett Shipyard, April 3. WSF will conduct dockside training in mid-July and full crew and vessel training will begin in late July before placing the vessel into service at the end of August. - Washington state Department of Transportation
The Chetzemoka leaves Todd Pacific Shipyards for Everett Shipyard, April 3. WSF will conduct dockside training in mid-July and full crew and vessel training will begin in late July before placing the vessel into service at the end of August.
— image credit: Washington state Department of Transportation

Two 64-car state ferries to be launched in 2011 will be named the Salish and the Kennewick.

The State Transportation Commission selected the names Tuesday. The other names under consideration were Cowlitz, Samish and Tokitae.

Salish is expected to be launched in spring 2011; Kennewick is expected to be launched in summer 2011, according to Washington State Ferries.

“Salish” refers to the Coast Salish people of the region, and is also the geographical name of the inland marine sea comprised of Juan de Fuca Strait, the Strait of Georgia, and Puget Sound. “Kennewick” means “grassy place” and “grassy slope” and comes from the name Kin-i-wak, the commission website states. Kennewick was the gathering place for the Cayuse, Chemnapum, Nez Perce, Umatilla, Walla Walla, Wanapam and Yakama.

The Salish and the Kennewick are not expected to be assigned to any particular route, according to WSF. The two follow the 64-car ferry Chetzemoka, which makes its inaugural sailing between Whidbey Island and Port Townsend on Aug. 29. Chetzemoka was named for the leader of the Klallam people in the mid-1800s. It is the first new state ferry built in more than a decade.

“Washington State Ferries is the largest ferry system in the country carrying nearly 23 million passengers a year,” Gov. Christine Gregoire said in a press release. “As we take steps to cut costs and improve efficiencies in the operations side of the system, we have also made investments in our vessels to ensure a safe and reliable system. The launching of the Chetzemoka represents our commitment to maintaining a world-class ferry system that thousands of Washingtonians depend on every day to move them across Puget Sound.”

Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond said the Chetzemoka "will restore much-needed reliable ferry service critical to the economic prosperity of the Port Townsend and Keystone communities."

“With the Chetzemoka nearly ready for service, and construction under way on the second new vessel with a third soon to follow, we have taken the first steps toward achieving the healthy and sustainable ferry system envisioned and called for in the Ferry System Long-range Plan.”

WSF will host activities on Whidbey Island, in Port Townsend, and aboard the Chetzemoka on Aug. 29. The Chetzemoka’s first full day of service on the Port Townsend/Keystone route is expected to be Aug. 30.

WSF is building new ferries to replace its aging fleet. Nine of WSF’s 20 auto-passenger ferries are between 40 and 65 years old and must be replaced in the next 20 years. The $114.1 million contract for the Salish and Kennewick, awarded to Todd in October 2009, includes an option for a fourth 64-car ferry. WSF will pursue procurement of a 144-car ferry rather than a fourth 64-car ferry if sufficient funding is available prior to exercising the option.

WSF awarded the $65.5 million contract for construction of the Chetzemoka to Todd Pacific Shipyards of Seattle in December 2008. Beginning construction in January 2009, Todd worked with its subcontractors Everett Shipyard, Nichols Brothers Boat Builders and Jesse Engineering to meet an 18-month timeline to build this first vessel in the class of 64-car ferries.

Tuesday, the commission was also expected to vote on a proposal to change the name of Whidbey Island’s Keystone ferry terminal to the "Coupeville" terminal.

Also on Tuesday, the commission reviewed the draft statewide transportation plan that establishes a 20-year vision for the development of the statewide transportation system. Release of the draft plan will initiate a public comment period stretching into October. The commission will adopt the final plan by December.

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