Skagit County, Vessel Designer Seek Proposals for New Electric Ferry

Guemes ferry
An artists’ rendering of an all-electric ferry that could eventually replace the m/v Guemes. Image courtesy of Glosten.

Seattle-based vessel designer Glosten and the Skagit County (Wash.) Public Works Department are seeking proposals from electrical integrators to provide vessel and shore electrical systems, as well as the automated charging plug, for an all-electric ferry design to replace the m/v Guemes.

The deadline for submissions however, is right around the corner.

Skagit County Public Works hired naval architecture firm Glosten in 2017 to develop an all-electric ferry design to replace the 40-year-old diesel-powered vessel Guemes. The Guemes is a 21-vehicle, 99-passenger, diesel-powered ferry that was built and put into service in 1979. Today, it operates 365 days a year and transports about 200,000 vehicles and 400,000 passengers annually.

Since there are no alternative roads or highways that provide access to Guemes Island, the Skagit County ferry system serves as a vital transportation link for its ridership. In addition to transporting commuters, the ferry also carries tourist traffic, construction and logging trucks, essential services trucks and emergency vehicles and personnel to and from the island.

The new vessel is conceived as a double-ended vehicle and passenger ferry with a three-tiered deckhouse. It’s designed to accommodate four lanes of vehicles, including highway-rated trucks and emergency vehicles.

The Washington State Legislature recently passed SHB1502, providing authority for the county to select the equipment during the vessel’s contract design. The chosen integrator would be required in the bid specifications for vessel construction at a shipyard, and for shoreside terminal modifications in Anacortes, Wash.

“Complete integration between the ship and shore electronics is essential for a successful construction project and reliable ferry,” Skagit County Public Works Ferry Operations Division Manager Rachel Rowe explained. “Selecting a single electrical systems integrator during contract design will ensure that the county can effectively balance cost and performance for these critical systems even though equipment purchases will be split across multiple competitive bids.”

Vendors interested in participating in the Request for Proposal (RFP) for the Guemes Island Ferry Replacement Project are encouraged to visit for more details. The deadline for proposals is Sept. 16, 2021 at 4 p.m.