Washington State Ferries

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This article is about the ferry system operated on Puget Sound by the state of Washington. For ferry systems in Washington state operated by other entities, see Ferries in Washington State.
A ferry arrives in Downtown Seattle.

Washington State Ferries is a passenger and automobile ferry service owned and operated by the Washington State Department of Transportation that serves communities on Puget Sound and in the San Juan Islands. It is the largest passenger and automobile ferry fleet in the United States and the third largest in the world by fleet size.[1] The service is also the largest in the world based on the number of vehicles carried, having carried 11 million annually.[2]

History[edit]

The ferry system has its origins in the "Mosquito Fleet", a collection of small steamer lines serving the Puget Sound area during the later part of the nineteenth century and early part of the 20th century. By the beginning of the 1930s, two lines remained: the Puget Sound Navigation Company (known as the Black Ball Line) and the Kitsap County Transportation Company. A strike in 1935 forced the KCTC to close, leaving only the Black Ball Line.[3]

Toward the end of the 1940s the Black Ball Line wanted to increase its fares, to compensate for increased wage demands from the ferry workers' unions, but the state refused to allow this, and so the Black Ball Line shut down. In 1951, the state bought nearly all of Black Ball's ferry assets for $5 million (Black Ball retained five vessels of its fleet).[4] The state intended to run ferry service only until cross-sound bridges could be built, but these were never approved, and the Washington State Department of Transportation runs the system to this day.

Fleet[edit]

Washington State Ferry Tacoma
The Hyak in Rich Passage heading to Bremerton, WA.

As of 2012, there are 22 ferries on Puget Sound operated by the state.[5] The largest vessels in this fleet carry up to 2500 passengers and 202 vehicles. They are painted in a distinctive white and green trim paint scheme, and feature double-ended open vehicle decks and bridges at each end so that they do not need to turn around.

The ferry fleet consists of the following vessels:[5]

Washington State Ferries Current fleet
Ferry Name Class Year Built (Rebuilt) Auto Capacity Passenger Capacity Notes
MV Hiyu None 1967 34 200
MV Chetzemoka Kwa-di Tabil 2010 64 750
MV Salish Kwa-di Tabil 2011 64 750
MV Kennewick Kwa-di Tabil 2011 64 750
MV Evergreen State Evergreen State 1954 (1988) 87 983 Retired on June 29, 2014. Pressed back into service two weeks later due to a fleet shortage.
MV Klahowya Evergreen State 1958 (1995) 87 800
MV Tillikum Evergreen State 1959 (1994) 87 1061
MV Sealth Issaquah 100 1982 (2006) 90 1200
MV Issaquah Issaquah 130 1979 (1989) 124 1200 Auto capacity increased in 1989.
MV Kittitas Issaquah 130 1980 (1990) 124 1200 Auto capacity increased in 1990.
MV Kitsap Issaquah 130 1980 (1992) 124 1200 Auto capacity increased in 1992.
MV Cathlamet Issaquah 130 1981 (1993) 124 1200 Auto capacity increased in 1993.
MV Chelan Issaquah 130 1981 (2004) 124 1076 Upgraded to meet SOLAS standards for Sidney, BC route.
Auto capacity increased in 2001.
MV Hyak Super 1967 144 2000
MV Kaleetan Super 1967 (1999) 144 2000
MV Yakima Super 1967 (2000) 144 2000
MV Elwha Super 1968 (1991) 144 1076 Upgraded to meet SOLAS standards for Sidney, BC route.
MV Tokitae Olympic 2014 144 1500
MV Samish Olympic 2015 144 1500 Currently under construction, to be in service by early 2015
Unnamed Olympic 2017 144 1500 Construction has not yet begun, to be in service by early 2017.
MV Spokane Jumbo 1972 (2003) 188 2000
MV Walla Walla Jumbo 1972 188 2000
MV Tacoma Jumbo Mark II 1997 202 2500
MV Wenatchee Jumbo Mark II 1998 202 2500
MV Puyallup Jumbo Mark II 1999 202 2500

Retired vessels[edit]

MV Illahee was one of the Steel Electric class ferries which were retired in 2007.
MV Kalakala was retired in 1967

Since the beginning of state-run ferry service in 1951, WSF has retired many vessels as they have become older, too expensive to operate or maintain, or have become too small to provide adequate ferry service. WSF owned passenger-only vessels between 1985 and 2009, but after discontinuing its two passenger-only routes in the 2000s, WSF has sold its passenger-only ferries to other operators.

Below is a list of ferries that WSF has retired since 1951. Unless otherwise noted, all vessels introduced in 1951 were acquired from the Black Ball Line when the state took over the company's routes and ferryboats in Puget Sound.

Washington State Ferries Retired fleet[6]
Ferry Name Class Year Built (Rebuilt) Year in service Year Retired Auto Capacity Passenger Capacity Notes
MV Chippewa None 1900 (1928/ 1932) 1951 1964 52 950 Converted to a car ferry in 1926
MV Leschi None 1913 1951 1967 40 453 Previously owned by King County and used on Lake Washington
SS San Mateo None 1922 1951 1969 50 659 Purchased by PSN in 1941
SS Shasta None 1922 1951 1958 55 468 Purchased by PSN in 1941
MV Rosario None 1923 (1931) 1951 1951 33 312
MV Kitsap (1925) None 1925 1951 1961 32 325
MV Crosline None 1925 (1947) 1951 1967 30 300 Purchased by the state in 1947
MV Kehloken Wood Electric 1926 1951 1972 50 770 Purchased by PSN in 1940
MV Kalakala None 1926 (1935) 1951 1967 110 1943 Originally built as MV Peralta in 1926; rebuilt as Kalakala in 1935 using Peralta's hull
MV Enetai Steel Electric 1927 1951 1967 90 1500 Purchased by PSN in 1940 and converted to a single-ended ferry
MV Willapa Steel Electric 1927 1951 1967 90 1500 Purchased by PSN in 1940 and converted to a single-ended ferry
MV Chetzemoka (1927) Wood Electric 1927 1951 1973 50 400 Purchased by PSN in 1938
MV Quinault Steel Electric 1927 (1958/ 1985) 1951 2007 59 616 Purchased by PSN in 1940
MV Illahee Steel Electric 1927 (1958/ 1986) 1951 2007 59 616 Purchased by PSN in 1940
MV Nisqually Steel Electric 1927 (1958/ 1987) 1951 2007 59 616 Purchased by PSN in 1940
MV Klickitat Steel Electric 1927 (1981) 1951 2007 64 412 Purchased by PSN in 1940
MV Klahanie Wood Electric 1928 1951 1972 50 601 Purchased by PSN in 1940
MV Skansonia None 1929 1951 1969 32 465 Operated under a state contract since 1940 after the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsed
MV Vashon None 1930 1951 1980 50 646
MV Olympic None 1938 1954 1993 55 605 Purchased by WSF in 1954
MV Rhododendron None 1947 (1990) 1954 2012 48 546 Purchased by WSF in 1954, sold to Atlantic Capes Fisheries in 2013
MV Kulshan None 1954 1970 1982 65 350 Purchased by WSF in 1970, sold in 1982 and renamed MV Governor
MV Tyee None 1985 1985 2003 0 250 Operating as M/V Glacier Express in Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska as of 2013[7][8]
MV Kalama Skagit/ Kalama 1989 1989 2009 0 230 Sold in 2011
MV Skagit Skagit/ Kalama 1989 1989 2009 0 230 Sold in 2011; capsized on July 18, 2012
MV Chinook Passenger-Only Fast Ferry 1998 1998 2008 0 350 Sold to Golden Gate Ferries, renamed MV Golden Gate
MV Snohomish Passenger-Only Fast Ferry 1999 1999 2008 0 350 Sold to Golden Gate Ferries, renamed MV Napa

Routes[edit]

A map showing the routes operated by Washington State Ferries in comparison with state highways in Washington. Click for more detail.

Most Washington State Ferry routes are legally part of the state highway system,[9] frequently with no road portion on one end or the other.

From October 1986 to September 9, 1989 and from April 23, 1990 to Sept. 21, 2003 a passenger-only service ran on the Seattle-Bremerton route. It was shut down because of limited profitability and because of continued lawsuits of residents living on the waterway used by the ferry to prevent the high-speed ferries built for the run from running at their full speed. The slower speed made the crossing time similar or equal to the auto ferry operating on the same route, making the passenger-only service redundant.[citation needed]

The current passenger-only ferry route between Seattle and Vashon Island is designated State Route 339, with no road portion at either end. This route is no longer operated by Washington State Ferries, as responsibility was passed to the King County Marine Division in fall of 2009.

Other ferries[edit]

There are several other publicly operated, private, and passenger-only ferries in Washington state.

See also[edit]


References[edit]

  1. ^ "An Introduction To The Largest Ferry System In The Nation" (PDF). Washington State Ferries, Customer and Community Relations. May 2007. p. 2. Retrieved 2008-04-18. 
  2. ^ "Washington State Department of Transportation Ferries Division Begins Implementation of Quintiq". Quintiq. February 23, 2009. Retrieved November 7, 2010. 
  3. ^ History of Washington State Ferry system, wsdot.com, retrieved March 15, 2008
  4. ^ Washington State Ferries begins operations on June 1, 1951, HistoryLink.org, retrieved March 15, 2008
  5. ^ a b Washington State Ferries - Our Fleet, wsdot.com, Retrieved November 4, 2012
  6. ^ "The Ghost Fleet of Washington State Ferries". EvergreenFleet.com. Retrieved 5 November 2012. 
  7. ^ M/V Tyee, Evergreen Fleet, retrieved 2013-06-28 
  8. ^ Our fleet of vessels, Major Marine Tours, retrieved 2013-06-28 
  9. ^ 2004-2005 Official State Highway Map, Washington State Department of Transportation, retrieved March 15, 2008

External links[edit]