Public comments sought on naming state's next car ferry

Now that funding for the fourth Olympic-Class ferry has been secured under the Connecting Washington transportation revenue package passed by the Legislature this year, the Washington State Transportation Commission has been asked to provide Washington State Ferries with a name for the new ferry by March 2016.

The commission conducted a name search last year, as work began on the third 144-car ferry, and that search resulted in four eligible name proposals coming forward. The commission ultimately selected the name “Chimacum” in 2014, leaving three names that are still eligible: Cowlitz, Sammamish, and Suquamish.

The commission will discuss the three remaining eligible names at their Jan. 12 and 13 meetings in Olympia and is seeking public comment on the names as part of its review and selection process. The commission will make its final selection of the name at the March 15 and 16 meetings in Olympia.

More information about each of the three names under consideration is available online here. Comments regarding the names can be emailed to

The commission will seek input from Washington State Ferries and the Ferry Advisory Committee Executive Council. Additionally, members of the Ferry Riders Opinion Group (FROG) and the Voice of Washington State (VOWS), two online survey panels made up of about 50,000 people from across the state, will have the chance to vote on the three names via an online survey that will be sent out in late January. Anyone can sign up to participate by visiting Join VOWS by visiting

The commission has guidelines that help determine the eligibility of a name proposal:

  • Names for ferries should carry statewide significance and represent our state’s image and culture.
  • Specifically, names should represent such things as: state adopted symbols, tribal names, names of bodies of water, geographic locations, cities, counties, relate to nautical heritage, etc.
  • Consideration will be given to the consistency with existing Washington State Ferries fleet names.
  • Names should have broad familiarity, are non‐offensive, and meet ethical standards.
  • Names with commercial overtones or names honoring or commemorating individuals should be avoided, but will be considered upon very careful review.

Many of the 24 vessels in Washington State Ferries’ fleet have names reflecting the state’s tribal, geographic and historic heritage. The most recently named vessels – Chimacum, Samish and Tokitae – are in keeping with that tradition.

More information about the Washington State Transportation Commission is available online at