In recognition of the Tillikum ferry’s 60 years of service, Washington State Ferries presented commemorative emblems that now hang above the car deck on both ends of the ferry and will remain there until the ferry is retired in 2023.
“The Tillikum is a testament to the sheer love and dedication of our engineers, Eagle Harbor staff, and crews,” stated Washington State Ferries Assistant Secretary Amy Scarton, who presented the emblems. “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 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 inter-island ferry in the San Juan Islands.
In January, 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.