A new ferry, the product of a unique partnership between Foss Maritime, a confederation of Native American tribes and state government, began service on the Columbia River after a christening ceremony on August 14, 2013.
The new Sanpoil ferry, a 20-car aluminum-hulled vessel with advanced technology for cleaner air, was constructed at Foss Maritime's Rainier, Ore. shipyard in 11 aluminum sections. The new vessel is the largest ever built at the Rainier Yard and measures 116 feet long, 45 feet in beam and has a draft of 6.5 feet.
The 11 modules were then carefully transported overland, including through some highly populated areas, to the final assembly site, above the Grand Coulee Dam.
On August 14, in a joint ceremony north of Wilbur, Wash. at the Columbia River south shore landing, the Sanpoil was christened and began service. Cars were lined up and waiting to make the 1.25-mile crossing on rural State Route 21 following the ceremony. Officials from Foss Maritime, the state Department of Transportation, The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and others were in attendance.
The Sanpoil replaces the Martha S., a six-car vessel that for 64-years sailed above the internationally renowned Grand Coulee Dam. The route provides a vital cross-Columbia River transportation link. Approximately 60,000 vehicles travel each year.