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.
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-car 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 the Steilacoom II.