Just as doctors recommend annual physicals for their patients, the U.S. Coast Guard also insists on ferry boat inspections every two years.
One of Pierce County’s two ferries, the M/V Steilacoom II, will motor into dry dock on June 1 for its biennial inspection, which will last three weeks. The county’s other ferry, the M/V Christine Anderson, will handle the full schedule.
The inspection and maintenance of the ferry is a routine procedure. In the unlikely event that the Christine Anderson encounters problems while the 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.
Coast Guard regulations require the ferries to hold a valid certificate of inspection in order to lawfully operate. The County request to extend the certificate to the end of June was denied by the Coast Guard, requiring the boat to be taken out of service until it returns from the shipyard.
While in dry dock at Vigor Industrial shipyard – the successful bidder located in Seattle – the ferry will undergo a hull inspection and standard maintenance and repair work identified as part of the inspection. The cost of the dry dock inspection is $1.4 million.
“County residents who depend on the ferry system can rest assured there are failsafes in place to ensure the islands have transportation service,” said Councilmember Doug Richardson, who represents the 6th Council District in which the ferries operate. “These boats have to be checked for safety and maintenance just like any other vehicle, but we anticipate being back at full strength before the July 4th holiday.”
The ferry division, managed by Pierce County Public Works and Utilities, operates between 12 and 15 runs each day from the Steilacoom terminal to Anderson and Ketron islands. The ferries carried approximately 382,690 one-way passengers last year, a 4.22-percent increase over 2013.
Doug Richardson, Pierce County Council