A Battery-Electric Ferry for Guemes Island

  • Client:
    Skagit County Public Works
  • Key Collaborators:
    Widener & Associates
    Canal Marine & Industrial
  • Project Type:
    Vessel Design & Modification, Passenger Vessels
  • Service Categories:
    Naval Architecture
    Marine Engineering
    Marine Electrical & Controls Engineering
  • Vessel Overview:
    28-car, 150-passenger ferry using plug-in battery propulsion
  • Challenge:
    Replace an aging ferry and reduce emissions for the new ferry's 40-year life.


When Washington’s Skagit County hired Glosten to design a new ferry to replace the original M/V Guemes, they made sustainability a priority. The new Guemes Island ferry features a battery-electric propulsion system that significantly reduces emissions and operational costs.

Residents and visitors rely on the M/V Guemes as the only means of getting to and from Guemes Island. A suitable replacement is needed to serve Skagit County for another four decades or more and meet whatever challenges might face a small vessel operator in that time. Glosten was engaged to help the County plan accordingly by comparing propulsion options, estimating capacity, and assessing costs while balancing the interests of local stakeholders.

Breezeway Render_With People_Rev A


The replacement ferry is double-ended with a three-tiered deckhouse and can accommodate four lanes of vehicles including highway-rated trucks and emergency vehicles. Concurrent modifications to the terminal will keep walk-on passengers and vehicles separated throughout the trip. This improves safety and schedule efficiency by eliminating delays during the switch between car and passenger loading. In addition, the battery-electric propulsion system will significantly reduce airborne noise, which means that passengers can enjoy a quieter commute.

The new Guemes Island ferry design relies on an all-electric propulsion system, making it one of the first vessels of its kind in the United States. The vessel will see a 50% reduction in operational costs compared to its diesel-propelled predecessor and will produce virtually zero emissions during its 5/8-mile crossing. Glosten analyzed the route, terminals, and utility infrastructure and found that charging once during each round trip is feasible, reliable, and will minimize the cost of the project. Glosten has completed a contract-level vessel design and is currently assisting with the development of bid packages for the vessel and supporting shore projects.

Throughout the project, Glosten has taken time to be present on site for public meetings, data collection, and meetings with my crew—something that many consultants just don’t take the time to do. This project would not be where it is today without that level of commitment and customer focus.”

– RACHEL ROWE, Ferry Operations Division Manager, Skagit County Public Works