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State's first hybrid-electric ferry gets its name

A Washington state ferry sails on Elliott Bay near West Seattle. A hillside of trees and homes is in the background.
Ted S. Warren
The Associated Press file
A Washington state ferry sails on Elliott Bay near West Seattle on Oct. 18, 2016.

The next Washington state ferry will bear the name Wishkah when it sails in 2024. The Washington State Transportation Commission voted 7-0 Tuesday to select the name after receiving citizen suggestions for months.

The name honors the river flowing south from the Olympic foothills into Grays Harbor, the ancestral home of the Lower Chehalis people. The Wishkah River was formerly crossed by a ferry called Wishkah Chief, the Seattle Times reported.

“It represents a geographic area in the state that doesn’t have a ferry named for it right now,” said Commissioner Debbie Young of San Juan County. The state’s M/V Quinault, named for a lake and river that’s home to the coastal Quinault Indian Nation, was retired in 2009.

The $147 million, 144-car vessel is to begin construction next year at Vigor on Seattle’s Harbor Island. It’s the fifth Olympic Class ferry, following the Tokitae, Samish, Chimacum and Suquamish.

It will be the state's first hybrid-electric ferry.

The M/V Wishkah will be capable of recharging at the dock between trips, when chargers are added someday. Dock recharging would reduce fossil-fuel use 76%, according to state’s ferry-electrification plan. Otherwise, the lithium-ion batteries could provide an 8% to 16% fuel savings.

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