New Ferry Vessel

The current ferry vessel in the Lummi Island Ferry System, the Whatcom Chief, is 58 years old and is in need of replacement. The Public Works Department has gone through a systematic process to identify a new ferry vessel design that meets the needs of island residents, taxpayers, vessel crew members, the environment, and required regulations. 

The design method: 

  • Improves safety. 
  • Ensures fiscally responsible choices and features without unnecessary options.
  • Encompasses more than 200 years of directly relatable experience in vessel maintenance, operations, and construction.
  • Incorporates best practices from small vehicle ferry operators across the state of Washington.
  • Heavily involves vessel crew and maintenance staff input. 
  • Reduces environmental footprint with noise, vibration, and light pollution. 
  • Improves operations.
  • Reduces out-of-service maintenance time.
  • Adds redundancy for improved reliability.
  • Improves the passenger experience.
  • Complies with all level of service requirements adopted by the Whatcom County Council in Resolution 2018-026
    • Accommodates all walk-on passengers during typical peak times.
    • Accommodates legal loads of vehicles per Washington State Commercial Vehicle Guidelines.
    • Meets or exceeds U.S. Coast Guard safety standards and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
    • Approaches the goal of a carbon neutral vessel by providing flexibility for future electric conversion. 


In May 2020, the county submitted a BUILD Grant Application to the US Department of Transportation to modernize the Lummi Island Ferry System. 

Lummi Island Ferry System Level of Service

On February 21, 2017, the Whatcom County Council passed Resolution #2017-012.  The resolution established new level of service (LOS) goals for the Lummi Island Ferry System. 

On July 24, 2018, the Whatcom County Council passed Resolution #2018-026.  The resolution adopted the Level of Service recommendation from the Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee.

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Draft New Ferry Vessel Render 207 view of end 1 from pilot house
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