Letter to LIFAC Member Antholt From Marine Engineer/Architect

LIFAC member Chuck Antholt continues to help gather information about potential future options for a replacement ferry. Here is an email exchange he had recently with marine engineer L. Paul Zankich who wrote the most recent report on a survey of the Chief’s hull condition to Public Works. First shown is Chuck’s emailed questions, and Paul’s reply follows.


On 9/23/2014 10:05 AM, Chuck Antholt wrote:

Mr. Zankich.  I am a member of the County’s appointed Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Group.  I read the September 5 report you submitted on the Chief.

We are currently looking at replacing the Chief – someday.  But, that someday seems rather elastic.  Some think the chief should be taken out of service asap, others think that it is sensible to prudently maintain the Chief for a while, say 10 years.   Eventually, however, it will have to be replaced.  How could we get a professional opinion as to what could reasonably be expected for the “service life” of the chief?  We know forecasting is not an exact science, but we are all amateurs.   It looks to some of us that we should try an obtain a professional update as to this issue.   So two questions:

  1. How could this be done?  What type of professional(s) would be needed?
  2. What (horseback guess) might this cost?

FYI the chief is not ADA compliant.  That seems to be a big issue for some.

Couple more questions:

  1. You suggested that a 20 car double-ended ferry would cost $5,886,000.  I noticed that the Sanpoil (launched last year) cost about $9.6 million.  The Sanpoil is aluminum which would drive the cost up.  I guess you are suggesting a steel boat would be about $3 million less expensive.  That seems like a big difference – but I know little about ferries.  Any comments.
  2. If the Sanpoil model would be appropriate, but in steel, what could one expect in redesign costs because of the use of steel – roughly?
  3. Suppose the Sanpoil model was appropriate, but rather 30 car capacity would be needed.  Obviously length would be longer.  What about the beam?  I assume it would be wider, but I don’t know about these kind of boats.  If the beam was close to the same as the 20 car model, that has cost savings implications for the docking facilities.
  4. How big deal is it to redesign an existing boat to somewhat larger, say 1/3 more capacity?  What order of magnitude might redesign costs be?

I apologize for hitting you with this out of the blue.  I hope you can share your views.  If not, I understand.

Thanks and regards,

Chuck Antholt
360- 223-1134


From: Paul Zankich [mailto:pzankich@columbia-sentinel.com]
Sent: Tuesday, September 30, 2014 7:08 PM
To: Chuck Antholt
Subject: Re: 2014 Whatcom Chief “Hull Survey from Drydock…

TO: Chuck Antholt,                                         30 SEPTEMBER 2014

You are looking for a Professional person to advise you about the future of the Chief.

You have one now and I have a long history with the Chief.  I am a Professional Engineer with a license in Naval Architect and Marine Engineering.  I have designed many passenger and passenger/auto ferries including six WSF vessels.  Attached is my resume and my company resume.

The service life of the Chief is long into the future.

The vessel is steel and we gauge the thickness of the hull and house at every drydocking and when a localized area is corroding we replace it.

Twenty or more years are easily foreseeable as a life.  This vessel is very simple in design and construction and easy to maintain.  The propulsion system is tried and true and when the engine hours build up the engines either are rebuilt or replaced at a fraction of new vessel costs.  The electrical systems are upgraded when justified and will be easily upgradable should new technology come available.  The piping systems are current and easily maintainable.

The vessel yes is not ADA Compliant but this can be made to comply especially if the demand is for a 30 car ferry because this vessel can be lengthened and the added cabin area can have a appropriate rest room and adequate doors and wheelchair parking space.

The Sanpoil was very expensive due to its construction in Aluminum and having to build the vessel off site in modules.  The modules had to be transported and assembled with difficult site constraints.  The Aluminum construction probably cost 1 million more than steel and the construction off site and assembly on site added probably 1.3 million.  Also the vessel was built for WSF whom are a very difficult customer and that probably added 1.4 million to the cost.

Redesigning the Sanpoil in steel is possible and if built for Whatcom County the redesign might cost $160,000 but the finished cost would most likely be around 6 million as my report said.

If Whatcom County wants a 30 car ferry the Chief should be consider as a candidate for lengthening at a cost of about 1.8 million and a new construction vessel maybe 7.4 million.  The vessel should not be wider as two lanes per side are appropriate for this vessels mission.

My billing rate is Approximately $145/hr but occasional questions you don’t get charged for.

I look forward to advising you in the future.

L.Paul Zankich, P.E.
Principal Naval Architect
Columbia-Sentinel Engineers, Inc.


Mr. Zankich also attached a copy of his Principal Naval Architect resume and his Company Resume of Marine Expert Services.

One thought on “Letter to LIFAC Member Antholt From Marine Engineer/Architect

  1. Seems the Whatcom Chief will outlive all those who want her replaced 🙂 I appreciate Mr. Antholt’s careful, deliberate, approach to this issue, and think that is in our best interests.

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