MV Rhododendron arriving at Tahlequah Ferry Terminal
|Name:||1947-1951: Gov. Herbert R. O'Conner
1951-present: MV Rhododendron
|Owner:||1947-1951: Claiborne-Annapolis Ferry Company
2013-present: Atlantic Capes Fisheries
|Operator:||1947-1951: Claiborne-Annapolis Ferry Company
1951-2012: Washington State Ferries
|Port of registry:||1951-present: Seattle, Washington, United States|
|Builder:||Maryland Drydock Company, Baltimore|
|Out of service:||January 23, 2012|
Call Sign: WB6079
|Class & type:||Rhododendron Class auto/passenger ferry|
|Length:||227 ft 6 in (69.3 m)|
|Beam:||62 ft (18.9 m)|
|Draft:||10 ft (3.0 m)|
|Deck clearance:||13 ft 6 in (4.1 m)|
|Installed power:||2,172 hp|
|Propulsion:||2 Diesel engines|
|Speed:||11 kn (20 km/h; 13 mph)|
48 vehicles (max 15 commercial)
The Motor Vessel Rhododendron was the sole Rhododendron Class ferry operated by Washington State Ferries. She was named for the state flower of Washington, the rhododendron. She was referred to affectionately as "The Rhody" by residents of Vashon Island.
The Rhododendron was one of two similar Chesapeake Bay ferries that were purchased to become part of the WSF fleet in the 1950s; the other being the now-retired MV Olympic. The Rhododendron's former name was the MV Governor Herbert R. O'Conner. She was originally purchased to be used in the interim while other new ferries were being built.
The ferry was retired in January 2012 and was sold in February 2013.
Her original use in Washington from 1953 to 1961 was on a route from the Olympic Peninsula to the Kitsap Peninsula, near the current site of the Hood Canal Bridge. Her service there ended when the Hood Canal Bridge was built.
In 1983, the Rhododendron was mothballed and stored at the WSF maintenance facility at Eagle Harbor. In 1990, the ferry was completely reconditioned, with its rotted superstructure completely replaced.
Due to her construction, she was not permitted to operate more than one mile (1.6 km) from shore. Consequently, in 1993 she was assigned to the Point Defiance to Vashon Island route, a 12 minute trip that is a total of 1.5 miles (2.4 km) long. For a short time in 2008 the Rhododendron was leased to Pierce County for service to Anderson Island.
The Rhody remained on the Point Defiance-Tahlequah route until she was retired in 2012. Her final scheduled sailing was at 2:10 pm on January 23, 2012, after which she was replaced by the MV Chetzemoka.
The state attempted to sell the ship in an online auction in November 2012, but the US$300,000 winning bid was later withdrawn. On February 26, 2013, the Rhody was sold for $275,000 to Island Scallops, who operates scallop farms on Vancouver Island near Qualicum Beach, British Columbia and is a subsidiary of Atlantic Capes Fisheries. Island Scallops plans to use the ferry as a support vessel based in Fanny Bay, BC and will remove her engines.
Around 14:30 PDT on Monday, March 11th, 2013, the Rhododendron left Eagle Harbor (slip 1) for the last time. She is to arrive in Fanny Bay on Tuesday, March 12th. At 10:40PDT she crossed the border between the US and Canada in the Juan de Fuca Strait. After picking up a pilot from the Pacific Scout off of Victoria right before midnight on Monday, March 11, she headed for Haro Strait.
- Friedrich, Ed (27 February 2013). "Scallop-farming company buys 66-year-old ferry Rhododendron". Kitsap Sun. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
- Rhododendron - The Ferry of the State Flower, evergreenfleet.com
- M/V Rhododendron, Washington State Ferries. Archived from the original on 12 October 2012.
- "Classic old state ferry not sold after all". KOMO News. AP. December 1, 2012.
- KMAS News (28 February 2013). "Regional Stories Feb. 28". Mason County Daily News. Retrieved 4 March 2013.