The two new 144-car ferries now under construction are being
named Tokitae and Samish. The Washington State Transportation
Commission today selected the names from seven proposals submitted
in September. The other proposed names were Cowlitz, Hoquiam,
Muckleshoot, Sammamish and Ivar Haglund.
Each of the seven proposals met commission guidelines for naming ferries. The commission then solicited input from Washington State Ferries, the ferry advisory committee executive council, and through an online survey sent to members of the Ferry Riders Opinion Group and the Voice of Washington State survey panels. More than 4,000 people responded to the survey.
Of the 23 vessels operating in Puget Sound, almost all have names reflecting the state’s tribal heritage. The names of the two new Olympic Class vessels, along with the new 64-car ferries, are in keeping with that tradition.
Tokitae will be the first new 144-car ferry. This Coast Salish greeting means, “nice day, pretty colors” and also is the name given to an orca whale captured at Penn Cove, near Keystone, in 1970. Tokitae was brought to a marine park in Miami 40 years ago, where she was put into service as an entertainer, and re-named Lolita. She is the last survivor of the 45 Southern Resident Orcas captured in Washington state during the capture era of the 1960s and 70s. Such captures were banned in Washington state waters in 1976.
The second 144-car ferry will be named Samish. The meaning of the name is the “giving people” in proto-Salish origins. The Samish Indian Nation has held a deep-rooted respect for the traditions of sharing with its neighbors. The tribe’s historic area ranges from the mountaintops of the Cascades westerly along the hills, woodlands, and river deltas, arriving at the far western shores of the San Juan Island. The tribe’s historic lands have been inhabited for thousands of years by the ancestors of the Samish and their Coast Salish neighbors.
The class of ferry — Olympic — was chosen earlier by the Department of Transportation from 130 submissions.