January 15th 2020

The Maritime Administration has awarded Washington State Ferries a $1.5 million grant to help reduce the fleet’s carbon footprint.

The grant was announced by the Department of Transportation earlier this month as part of a total of $7.5 million in awards to marine highway projects in nine different states.

It goes to support the conversion of one of the ferries on the Seattle-Bainbridge run from diesel fuel to hybrid-electric propulsion.

The licensed deck officers who operate the ferries in the WSF fleet are members of the MM&P United Inland Group-Pacific Maritime Region.

The Jumbo Mark II ferries used on the Seattle-Bainbridge run include the TACOMA, the WENATCHEE and the PUYALLUP.

According to WSF, the three account for 26 percent of the fleet’s total fuel consumption.

In a statement, WSF said that since the vessels are due for their 20-year propulsion system replacements, the conversions would be a relatively easy upgrade “with minimal impacts on service.”

Upgrading the three, WSF said, could also significantly extend their service life, improve engine reliability and save up to $14 million a year in operating costs.

The America’s Marine Highway Program supports the increased use of the nation’s navigable waterways to relieve landside congestion, provide new and efficient transportation options and increase the productivity of the surface transportation system.

The program works with public and private stakeholders to achieve these goals.

“The America’s Marine Highway Program is dedicated to expanding the use of our inland waterways for freight movement,” said Maritime Administrator Mark H. Buzby.

“This round of grant funding will be used to continue that expansion and ensure that our waterways are used effectively.”

It is believed that the PUYALLUP will be the beneficiary of the MARAD grant, and that funding obtained previously from the state will be directed later to conversion of the other two Jumbo Mark II ferries.