Fast ferry project enters phase two

Beach nourishment, design changes to a catamaran and continued observation of Rich Passage wake pattern could lead to a Bremerton passenger-only run of less than half an hour.

The Bremerton City Council Wednesday heard an update on Pacific International Engineering’s ongoing research that could bring fast, low wake ferries to Rich Passage. Phase two is set to unfold this year with vessel testing scheduled for summer and a new low wake vessel design planned for the end of this year, said Phil Osborne, chief scientist on the wake wash study.

“It’s just as much a shoreline problem as a boat problem,” he said.

A year ago the company oversaw trial runs of the M/V Spirit, a 72-foot catamaran designed to minimize wakes at high speeds. The boat simulated a weekly ferry run, making eight round-trips between Seattle and Bremerton Monday through Friday. It will carried several thousand pounds of water to to simulate the weight of 149 passengers.

While the boat created far less wake than the Washington State Ferries Snohomish, there is room for improvement, Osborne reported. Restoring sediment levels is planned for four areas including Point White and Pleasant Beach.

The trials are part of the Fast Ferry Research Project that was initiated in June 2004, designed to investigate the feasibility of adding passenger only fast ferry service between Seattle and Bremerton. The project is being funded under federal grant program administered by the Federal Transportation Administration.

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