Washington State foil ferry project gets FTA grant

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Progress with the foil Ferry designed by Bieker Boats and Glosten will be among the topics on the FERRIES 2020 agenda.

A Washington State project aiming to develop an innovative fast foil ferry has received a boost in the shape of a $372,910 award to Kitsap Transit in the latest round of grants made by the Federal Transportation Administration under its Accelerating Innovative Mobility initiative.

Kitsap Transit is one of the members of a public-private partnership, led by Washington Maritime Blue, in which regional companies, public agencies, and nonprofits are developing state-of-the-art technology to support the region as a center of maritime excellence. Cash contributions of $100,000 were committed by the Ports of Bellingham, Skagit County, and Anacortes. An additional $139,000 of in-kind contributions have been committed by key project partners.

The new funding will support completion of the preliminary design for a high-speed passenger ferry powered by battery-electric, low-emission technology. The state-of-the-art hydrofoil design—being developed by Seattle-based Glosten and Anacortes-based Bieker Boats—will rely on lightweight carbon fiber construction and batteries to speed up travel between urban centers and suburban and rural communities and significantly reduce or eliminate fuel use compared to conventional fast ferries.

Naval architecture and marine engineering firm Glosten designed Kitsap Transit’s M/V Waterman, the first hybrid-electric passenger ferry to operate commercial service on the Puget Sound. Waterman operates on Kitsap Transit’s Port Orchard-Bremerton route.

Bieker Boats, whose principal Paul Bieker is well known for the structural design of the hydrofoils for the America’s Cup-winning Team Oracle as well as the foils for the Rich Passage-class fast ferries that operate Kitsap Transit’s Bremerton-Seattle route.

Another project partner, DNV GL, is providing technical expertise on routing, permitting, shoreside infrastructure, economic and environmental impact modeling, and business case development.

In addition to Kitsap Transit, public sector stakeholders include the Port of Anacortes, Port of Bellingham and Port of Skagit as well as] Tacoma Power, Skagit County and the Economic Development Alliance of Skagit County.

“Our three local ports see this innovation as an opportunity to spur economic recovery in the boat-building world, a critically important industry in our region,” said Patsy Martin, executive director of the Port of Skagit. “There are strong maritime industry clusters in each of our districts that could benefit from the design and construction of these vessels in our communities, resulting in a direct economic impact.”

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