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Who says there’s no free ride? You can take one on the returning Steilacoom II ferry on Saturday

Post by Kris Sherman / The News Tribune on Feb. 16, 2011 at 1:42 pm with 8 Comments »
February 16, 2011 2:02 pm

After three years away at sea, Pierce County is welcoming the MV Steilacoom II back home.

And you can take a free ride – foot passengers only – at 9:50 a.m. Saturday.

There is one catch: The celebration is mostly for Anderson Island residents, so the trip begins there. If you’re a mainlander and you want take the cruise, you need to take the ferry from Steilacoom to get there. And you have to pay for that ride. The MV Christine Anderson is in regular service on the route.

MV Steilacoom II

The ride is part of the county’s special celebration of the Steilacoom II’s return after its lease to the Washington State ferry system. The 54-carĀ  Steilacoom II served on the Port Townsend-Keystone run while the state was awaiting construction and trials of 64-vehicle MV Chetzemoka, which went into service last fall.

The Steilacoom II will make the Steilacoom-Ketron Island-Anderson Island run after crews are trained and certified, likely in early March. It will alternate service with the 17-year-old MV Christine Anderson, which also is a 54-car ferry, Public Works Assistant Director Toby Rickman said. Each boat is scheduled to work two weeks on and two weeks off.

That schedule allows for maintenance and backup and saves wear on each ferry.

Pierce County Public Works and Utilities, which owns the county ferries, leased the Steilacoom II to the state while it scrambled to replace the aging Klickitat.

The $12 million, 216-foot Steilacoom II went into service in January 2007.

Here’s a poster Pierce County Public Works published about the return of theĀ  Steilacoom II.

Leave a comment Comments → 8
  1. Pecksbadboy says:

    Free for whom?
    Taxpayers are paying for diesel, the ferry staff and all the politicians who will charge us a per diem to show up and ride. That is NOT free.

  2. Pierce County, and its residents, got shafted by the State on this deal. The ferry was brand new and just put into service for a month when the mismanaged State Ferry System confiscated it (calling it a lease) and then proceeded to trash it for three years due to incompetent seamanship, lack of maintenance and inappropriately using the small ferry on wave-punishing routes. Now Pierce County gets back a bashed and decidedly ‘used’ boat with a significantly reduced lifespan, thanks to the State’s misuse of it.

    Of note, the County paid a reasonable $12 Million for the Steilacoom II, yet the State ended up paying more than $50 Million each for essentially identical ferries built from the same plans that hold only 10 more cars. Just goes to show how great the State is in negotiating a deal with taxpayers’ money that they pay more than 400 percent as much for something that provides 20 percent more worth. Plus, now the County has to pay to repair the floating mess the State just returned to it like a rental car.

  3. madclown says:

    The Pierce County Council and Executive are planning on sticking Anderson Island residents with a HUGE increase in ferry rates to ride a used, trashed ferry.

    The council and executive are ignoring studies that have shown if you reduce fares, you increase ridership. Instead, they plan on sticking it to island families in an effort to make the island unaffordable for most working families, so they can create a wealthy retirement community on the island.

    ALL Pierce county residents will be paying for this increase because until they lower fares, ridership will continue to fall, just like what happened when they raised fares last time.

  4. mattersnot1 says:

    Pierce County will not being paying to do any current repairs to this ferry. The WSF system did it before returning the vessel to the County.

  5. madclown says:

    mattersnot1 says:

    “Pierce County will not being paying to do any current repairs to this ferry. The WSF system did it before returning the vessel to the County.”

    That’s true, now Pierce County is spending the next month to redo everything WSF screwed up.

  6. In an attempt to clear up some misinformation being shared, I wanted to clarify the events and agreement that Pierce County had with the Washington State Ferries (WSF) on the lease of the MV Steilacoom II. The vessel was put into service in Pierce County in February of 2007. The ST II provided service for about one year, when it was then leased to the State. The orginal lease was for 18 months so that the WSF could build a vessel with a similar design as the two county vessels. They had to adjust the design some to work in the stronger seas up in Port Townsend. The only bid they received for that design was for about $26 million and they rejected the bid as being too high. They then decided to build a completely different style of vessel that is used in stronger seas on the east coast and rebid that design resulting in the new MV Chetzemoka. It is not accurate to characterize the new WSF vessels as being the same as the county’s and since the new style of boat would take longer to build, the County then extended the lease with the State.

    The County inspected the use of the Steilacoom II every month that the State used it. WSF sent regular reports and recorded any damage that might have resulted from any events. WSF was required to repair any damage, and did so successfully. Before the Steilacoom II was returned by the State, a complete drydocking inspection was accomplished and every aspect of the vessel was repaired to match how they received the vessel when it was first leased to them. This included everything from the engines, the hull, the electronics, the interior, and all the way to a new paint job. The agreement called for a reveiw of every detail of the vessel when the lease began and when it ended, much like you would do when you rent an apartment and have a review before you get your damage deposit back.

    You are invited to check out the vessel on Saturday and you can see for yourself how much time and expenses the State invested to return the Steilacoom II in good condition. There is no need to spend a month redoing what the State hired a private drydock company to accomplish in refurbishing the vessel.

  7. madclown says:


    Thanks for the weak attempt but…

    The state leased the ferry and had to extend it how many times??

    The stelly is basically the same boat as the new ones but how much more did the state pay? three? four? times the amount?? pretty sad use of our money don’t you think?

    Now the state is basically dropping off the stelly after trashing it and leaving it to a small island to fix up.

    On top of that, the County politicians are about to stick the islanders with a HUGE increase in fares because they want to drive island families off in order to build a wealthy retirement community on Anderson Island.

  8. mattersnot1 says:


    Do you have any evidence the WSF has trashed this ferry or are you just talking through your hat?

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