Washington State Transportation Commission announced Tuesday the names of two 144-car ferries currently under construction.
Tokitae should begin carrying passengers in early 2014, and Samish may set sail in early 2015.
Whidbey-based Orca Network campaigned for the name Tokitae and collected more than 1,500 signatures.
This Coast Salish greeting means “nice day, pretty colors.” It is also the name of an orca captured in Penn Cove in 1970. Tokitae was re-named Lolita when she was brought to a marine park in Miami 40 years ago.
Orca captures have been banned in Washington state waters since 1976.
Samish means “giving people.” The Samish Indian Nation’s historic area ranges from the mountains of the Cascade Range west along the hills, woodlands, and river deltas, ending at the far western shores of San Juan Island.
The naming of the two new Olympic Class vessels is in keeping with the tradition of giving names that reflects the state’s tribal heritage.
No official determination on the routes that the ferries will serve has yet been made, but Joy Goldenberg, spokeswoman for Washington State Ferries, said the two vessels they could serve on the Mukilteo-Clinton route, among the San Juan Islands or between Bremerton and Seattle.
Ferries may be moved between routes to provide the highest level of service, Goldenberg said.