No cell service is causing many commuters to avoid taking a trip on Bremerton Washington’s, newest ferry, the Chimacum, unless wireless equipment is added to alleviate the situation. NBC affiliate, KING-TV, reports the ferry’s riders have nicknamed it the “Faraday Cage,” because the vessel blocks cell signals as it navigates the Seattle-Bremerton Ferry route through Rich Passage. Local scientists monitoring cell service on several ferries have found the Chimacumcommuters experience nearly non-existent service within passenger cabins, and theorize the dead zone can be attributed to the ferry’s low emissivity glass windows, which block heat with a metallic sheen.
Jeff Coughlin is one of the researchers monitoring cell service. He said, “On the Chimacum, when you walk outside the boat to inside, the signal drops by at least a factor of 100 and perhaps 1,000.” Compartmentalized steel bulkheads, a characteristic of the Olympic Class vessel, is also thought to disrupt any radio signals that pass through the windows.
Although a spokesman for the ferry stated the ships were designed for safety and performance, many systems onboard rely on radio or cell signals. Crews communicate with portables radios, and wirelessly process credit card transactions in the galley. Commuters hope with enough pressure, signal-boosting equipment will be installed to ease the hour-long commute for travelers.