MV Elwha

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MV Elwha
Elwha passing Flat Point 04.JPG
The MV Elwha passing Flat Point between Lopez Island and Canoe Island
Owner: WSDOT
Operator: Washington State Ferries
Port of registry: Seattle, Washington,  USA
Route: Anacortes - San Juan Islands - Sidney BC
Launched: December 16, 1967
Christened: December 16, 1967
  • 1967,
  • rebuilt in 1991
Maiden voyage: June 16, 1968
Status: In Service - Anacortes/San Juans/Sidney, B.C.
General characteristics
Class and type: Super-class ferry
  • 2,813 gross-tonnage
  • 1,322 net-tonnage
Displacement: 3978 (in long tons)
Length: 382 ft 2 in (116.5 m)
Beam: 73 ft 2 in (22.3 m)
Draft: 18 ft 9 in (5.7 m)
Decks: 2 auto decks/2 passenger decks
Deck clearance: 15 ft (4.6 m)
Installed power: Total 10,200 hp from 4 × Diesel-Electric engines
Speed: 20 kn (37 km/h)
  • 2000 passengers
  • 144 vehicles (max 30 commercial) - On the international route, SOLAS passenger capacity is 1090 people.
Crew: 14

MV Elwha is a Super-class ferry in the Washington State Ferry System. The Elwha was launched on December 16, 1967 in San Diego, and was originally built for the Seattle–Bainbridge Island route where it ran until being displaced by the Jumbo-class ferries in the early 1970s. In the early 1980s, it was reassigned to the San Juan Islands where it has generally remained ever since.[1]

Elwha is usually working the Anacortes-San Juan Islands route, and is one of only two ferries in the system certified for international sailings because she meets certain Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) standards. This allows Elwha to make the crossing between the United States and Canada. The only other vessel in the system with this certification is the Chelan.[citation needed]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

On October 2, 1983, the Elwha ran aground in Grindstone Harbor, near Orcas Island, on a submerged reef while carrying 100 passengers.[2] The collision was initially blamed on the failure of a steering component, but was later found to have been caused by Captain Billy Fittro going off-course to give a visitor a view of her waterfront home.[3] The captain resigned in lieu of being discharged a few days after the incident;[4] ferry chief Nick Tracey was fired the following month, after failing to report Captain Fittro's past negligence.[5] The collision caused $250,000 in damage and forced the ferry out of service for several weeks.[6] The rock was later named "Elwha Rock" in 1989 after the ferry;[7][8] the incident also inspired the song "Elwha on the Rocks", performed by the Island City Jazz Band.[9]

On September 8, 1999, the Elwha rammed the Orcas Island ferry dock.[10][11] The dock required $3.8 million in repairs.[12] The incident was blamed on a software glitch.[13]

On April 7, 2006, one of Elwha's two propulsion drive motors suffered a catastrophic failure. The ferry did not reenter service until August 2007.[citation needed]

The Elwha was removed from service on July 10, 2015, due to necessary repairs to its drive motors. The Kitsap was pulled from Bremerton and sailed in the Elwha's #5 position for the remainder of the summer sailing season. After having her drive motor repaired for the entirety of the summer and early fall, the Elwha made her return to the Sidney route on November 3, 2015.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "M.V. Elwha". Evergreen Fleet. Retrieved September 10, 2016.
  2. ^ Norton, Dee; Basset, Brian (October 3, 1983). "Ferry hits reef; steering failure blamed". The Seattle Times. p. A1.
  3. ^ Norton, Dee; Birkland, Dave (October 7, 1983). "Ferry skipper gave women tour, say officials". The Seattle Times. p. A1, A4.
  4. ^ Birkland, Dave (October 6, 1983). "Ferry 'had time to reverse course'". The Seattle Times. p. A1.
  5. ^ "Ferry chief fired in wake of Elwha furor". The Seattle Times. October 21, 1983. p. A8.
  6. ^ Corr, O. Casey (December 10, 1989). "Ferry makes the map with rock hit". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 10, 2016.
  7. ^ Broom, Jack (July 26, 2002). "Showing Off: Welcome aboard as we float a few facts on the state's ferries". The Seattle Times. Retrieved September 10, 2016.
  8. ^ "Ferry crash gives new name to Elwha River". The Free Lance–Star. Fredericksburg, Virginia. Associated Press. December 19, 1989. p. 44. Retrieved September 10, 2016 – via Google News Archive.
  9. ^ Duncan, Dan (November 9, 1983). "Spoof song 'Elwha on the Rocks' makes splash in ferry country". The Seattle Times. p. A1.
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ This paper describes the planning, design and construction of the $3.8 million replacement facilities.
  13. ^

External links[edit]