Local Information

Washington State Ferries recognizes Tillikum's 60 years in service

Wednesday, February 27, 2019 - 14:00

Ian Sterling, communications, 206-714-1556
Media on call phone, 206-402-8070

SEATTLE – The word Tillikum means “friends and relatives” in Chinook dialect, and on Wednesday, Feb. 27, friends of the ferry Tillikum, including crew, engineers and maintenance workers, unveiled commemorative emblems to recognize the ferry’s 60 years in service.

Washington State Ferries Assistant Secretary Amy Scarton presented the emblems, which will hang above the car deck on each end of the ferry until it is retired in 2023.

“The Tillikum is a testament to the sheer love and dedication of our engineers, Eagle Harbor staff, and crews,” said Scarton. “While the Tillikum remains a reliable vessel, we can’t continue to use technology of the 1950s for today’s needs. I look forward to working with the legislature to secure funding to replace the 13 vessels due for retirement in the next 20 years.”

Built in 1959 in Seattle, Tillikum started its public service back when a gallon of gas cost 23 cents, and before Alaska became a state.

The 60th anniversary insignia hangs above the car deck on both ends of the ferry and will remain there until the ferry is retired in 2023.

The last Evergreen State class ferry in state service, the Tillikum has operated on nearly every route in the system over its six decades. Today, it primarily serves as the interisland ferry in the San Juan Islands.

In January 2019, WSF released its 2040 Long Range Plan, which recommends the state build 16 new ferries in the next 20 years, including 13 ferries to replace vessels such as the Tillikum that are due for retirement, and three additional vessels to ensure continued reliable service. The plan also includes investments in terminal improvements, new technology and strategies to improve customer experience and manage growth.

Washington State Ferries, a division of the Washington State Department of Transportation, is the largest ferry system in the U.S. and safely and efficiently carries nearly 25 million people a year through some of the most majestic scenery in the world.

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