EDBG to provide functional design for hybrid-electric WSF Olympic ferries

Written by Nick Blenkey
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The new ferries will utilize hybrid-electric propulsion, tapping clean Northwest hydropower

Seattle, Wash., headquartered Elliott Bay Design Group (EBDG) reports that Vigor has selected it as the engineering firm that will provide functional design for the new Washington State Ferries (WSF) hybrid-electric Olympic Class ferries.

Earlier this year, Washington State’s Legislature authorized a shipbuilding contract extension for Vigor to construct up to five hybrid-electric versions of WSF’s four 144-vehicle Olympic Class ferries, delivered from Vigor’s Harbor Island Shipyard in Washington State between 2014 and 2018.

The hybrid-electric design phase of the new ferries is underway with construction of the vessels slated to begin in 2020 and delivery of the first vessel in late 2022. The vessel is expected to be the largest new-build battery-powered ferry in North America.

EBDG will be responsible for redesigning the vessels to accommodate the major change in propulsion type without disrupting structural components. The ferries will operate on all-battery power during crossings or can revert to a hybrid, diesel-electric propulsion if required.

Battery recharging will typically occur dockside at terminals during offloading/loading procedures.

The new-build authorization is a direct result of WSF’s 2040 Long Range Plan that identified the initial aspects of vessel and terminal electrification.

EBDG was a participant of the plan and is now leading the effort for an additional, supporting addendum – the WSF System Electrification Plan. The System Electrification Plan will identify a detailed plan for deploying hybrid-electric vessels throughout the ferry system.

EBDG brings to the project team the experience it has gained from design work on the last twenty vessels built for WSF. Further, EBDG has been a major contributor to WSF’s electrification efforts thus far by supporting hybrid feasibility studies and life-cycle cost analyses for both the Jumbo Mark II and Olympic Class ferries.

“We have supported WSF with naval architecture and engineering support since 1992,” says Brian King, President of Elliott Bay Design Group. “Our involvement in the hybridization of the ferries is a natural progression that we are immensely proud to be a part of.”

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