Customer Stories

Kitsap Transit Relies on Our Expertise to Power New Seattle Area Ferries

Transportation officials in Puget Sound are increasingly seeing the waterway as a vital transportation route for its residents to reach the Seattle metro area to the east.

Case in point, Kitsap Transit in 2017 launched its first fast-ferry service, linking Bremerton to downtown Seattle. Ridership has consistently beat expectations. The local transportation agency is capitalizing on that enthusiasm by adding two new fast-ferries to its fleet.

Kitsap Transit contracted with Nichols Brothers Boat Builders of Freeland, Washington, to build the two additional ferries, with an option to construct a third ship.

Powering the Newest Ferries

Each of the 140-foot-long aluminum catamarans are powered by two MTU 16V4000 M65L engines, each delivering 3,435 hp at 1,800 rpm, and two Kongsberg Kamewa S71 water jets, that we provided. The propulsion systems will also feature a Selective Catalytic Reduction exhaust aftertreatment system, which captures the engine’s exhaust and transforms it into a harmless mix of nitrogen, oxygen and water. The SCR helps the ferries meet Tier 4 regulations.

“MTU is the choice for fast ferry operators globally,” said Doug Schwedland, Vice President of Pacific Power Group’s Marine Division. “The Series 4000 is the latest in MTU’s long line of engines with exceptional power-to-weight ratio. When coupled with the demonstrated durability, that’s a big advantage.”

Continuing MTU Partnership

Schwedland said the  marine team worked closely with Kitsap to compare a two-engine solution with a four-engine solution. The simplicity and lifecycle cost benefits of operating two engines was the determining factor. During the field test process, MTU and Pacific Power will gather data to validate and optimize the performance of the engines. This is a similar process implemented for the operation and maintenance of engines used throughout the San Francisco Bay Area’s ferry fleet.

The field test engines installed in the Kitsap ferries are part of MTU’s extensive in-house development and in-field validation test programs. After passing the final step of the validation process, the engines will become one of the first Tier 4 marine engines to operate in fast ferries in Puget Sound. Delivery of both vessels is scheduled for 2020.

Speedier Transit

Kitsap Transit’s ferries will each carry up to 250 passengers and 26 bicycles, with a top speed of 37 knots and a cruise speed of 35 knots at full load. The passenger-only ships will expand the marine highway being developed to help ease congestion on the roadways in the notoriously congested Seattle-area traffic.

Voters in Kitsap County, which sits west from Seattle across the Sound, approved funding for the passenger-only fast ferries at a time when the area’s population is booming. Residents want a faster connection to the city. The funding will allow Kitsap Transit to add routes between Kingston and downtown Seattle and Southworth and downtown Seattle in 2020.

Lending Our Expertise

The expansion of ferry service in the Seattle area allows us to bring our expertise in this market. MTU designated our marine team as its preferred maintenance group to service its engines fitted for the San Francisco Bay Area WETA ferries.

“We’ve logged hundreds of hours working on MTU engines in Northern California,” Schwedland said. “This allows us to bring that knowledge to the budding system in Washington and help our customers in the region meet the performance standards they are seeking.”