State taking name suggestions for new ferry


Drawing of new ferry

The public is going to be able to take part in naming a new Keller Ferry that will replace the Martha S. next year.

The state Department of Transportation is asking the public to submit names for the 116-foot ferry now under construction in Rainier, Ore.

A DOT spokesperson stated that the name of the ferry should carry “statewide significance and represent our state’s image and culture.”

Specifically, the DOT announcement stated the name should represent state adopted symbols, tribal names, names of bodies of water, geographic locations, cities, counties, or be relate to nautical heritage.

Consideration will be given to the consistency with existing fleet names. All but three ferries in the state — the Evergreen State, the Rhododendron, and the Martha S. — have tribal names.

Persons wanting to submit names for the ferry may do so by visiting the DOT website at and filling out a form provided. The deadline to submit a name is March 31.

Names with commercial overtones or names honoring or commemorating individuals should be avoided, “but will be considered upon very careful review. In these cases, the following guidelines will apply: The individual must be deceased for at least 20 years, and they must have enduring fame and have played a significant historical role in the region or state.”

Coulee Medical Center ER and Walk-In Care

The current ferry. “Martha S,” has been in service since 1948, and carries a capacity of 12 cars. The new ferry, being built by Foss Maritime Company, has a capacity of 22 standard autos and 149 walk-on passengers.

Funding for the $9.6 million ferry comes from the federal government, plus $361,000 in state funds and $2 million from the Colville Confederated Tribes.

The new ferry will be shipped to Grand Coulee in three pieces and assembled at the Crescent Bay boat launch, according to state Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond.

Rainier shipyard manager Mark Houghton, said the firm has advertised for two Colville Tribal members who, when hired, will follow the vessel through construction and assembly. Nine new employees have been hired to work on the ferry, bringing employment at the Rainier site to 33.

About 20 from the plant will accompany the ferry to Grand Coulee where they will help assemble the three pieces. Houghton also stated that Foss Maritime will advertise for a security guard to work at the Crescent Bay site while assembly occurs.

Houghton said a ceremony is planned when the keel is laid late in March. He said the firm is waiting for some equipment before construction begins.

The vessel should arrive in Grand Coulee by November.


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