Washington State Ferries (WSF) are looking ahead—twenty years as a matter of fact. Department staff have been making the rounds of ferry-served communities and the ferries themselves with copies of the department’s draft 2040 Long Range Plan. They displayed some of the plans recently on Lopez Island and the interisland ferry.
Sadly, those goals require decommissioning older vessels, and M.V. Tillikum is slated to be the next to retire in 2022.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled WSF is exploring ways to “green the fleet” and improve service reliability. Two recent Executive Orders direct WSF to “begin the transition to a zero-carbon-emission ferry fleet” and to “explore strategies to quiet ferries to protect the struggling orca whale population.”
But I admit, I’ll miss some things when this vessel goes into mothballs. The M.V. Tillikum features a number of design elements common to the 1950s era in which it was constructed.
I’m charmed by the amount of brass on board and the wooden slat benches on the bow and stern. And then there’s the “Ladies’ Room,” complete with a dressing table with swivel chairs.
I expect WSF will replace M.V. Tillikum with a modern, fuel-efficient, quieter vessel to ply these waters of the Salish Sea. While the interior likely will be different, I also know some of the most important characteristics will stay the same—the helpful and friendly crew, the calming ride, and the inspiring views.