The biennial inspection of the M/V Steilacoom II, one of Pierce County’s two ferries, will begin June 12, and is expected to be complete July 9. The county’s other ferry, the M/V Christine Anderson, will handle the full schedule.
Vigor Industrial, the contractor for the work, initially planned to dry dock the boat on June 1. However, due to limited dry dock availability, the final schedule calls for the work to begin June 12.
For the Fourth of July weekend, the ferry system will operate a one-boat service instead of a two-boat service as it has the past four years. The ferry will operate on the holiday schedule on July 3 and 4. Pierce County will also extend the service day by adding a triangle departing Steilacoom at 11 p.m. on July 3 and 4 to accommodate travelers. Ketron Island passengers must make a reservation by calling (253) 588-1950 at least 20 minutes in advance.
“We wanted to let our ferry riders know now that we will have a one-boat service over the busy holiday weekend so they can plan accordingly,” said Deb Wallace, Pierce County Public Works airport and ferry administrator.
The M/V Steilacoom II’s certificate of inspection, which is required to operate the ferry, expired in March. The ferry must have the dry dock inspection before its certificate can be renewed. Pierce County was unable to get the ferry into dry dock sooner due to a lack of space in shipyards, the small amount of bidders that handle such work and limited staff resources.
While in dry dock at Vigor Industrial’s Seattle shipyard, the ferry will undergo a hull inspection and standard maintenance and repair work identified as part of the inspection. If the need for more significant repair work is discovered, the time the ferry is in dry dock could be extended. The contract bid price cost of the dry dock inspection, maintenance and repairs is approximately $1.4 million.
If the M/V Christine Anderson encounters problems while the M/V Steilacoom II is in dry dock, the county would implement a Ferry Operations Contingency Plan – which includes options such as chartering the M/V Hiyu from the State of Washington, if needed.
The Pierce County Ferry System provides service between Steilacoom and Anderson and Ketron islands.
Anne Radford, Public Works public information officer
Deb Wallace, Public Works airport and ferry administrator