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State takes ownership of ferry Salish

Washington's newest ferry, the 64-car Salish, was turned over to the state today, officials with Washington State Ferries announced Thursday.

Vigor Shipyards, formerly known as Todd Pacific Shipyards, completed touch-up painting and cleaning over the past week on the new Kwa-di Tabil-class ferry. Other portions of the vessel were built by Nichols Boat Builders in Freeland.

“We feel a great sense of satisfaction after having built and delivered this complex vessel,” said Steve Welch, president the shipyard. “It’s going to transport millions of passengers for the next 50 years or more. That’s a huge accomplishment.”

The Salish was originally expected to be delivered May 5, the shipyard needed additional time to complete demonstrations for the Coast Guard in order to receive the vessel’s “Certificate of Inspection.”

“We’re excited about the Salish and we can hardly wait to get two boats back in service for the Coupeville and Port Townsend communities,” said WSF Assistant Secretary David Moseley.

WSF officials said the Salish will be towed from Todd’s Harbor Island location to Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island Thursday afternoon. Early next week, the Salish will be towed to Dakota Creek Industries in Anacortes, and then will return to Eagle Harbor in late May, where state workers will add more landing lights, finish outfitting the rescue boats, and decrease gaps in the handrails.

After the modifications, the new ferry will be ready for crews to train onboard the vessel, first around Puget Sound, and later on the Coupeville (Keystone)-Port Townsend route.

The Salish is scheduled to begin regular service on the route in July, joining its sister ship, the M/V Chetzemoka, for the summer season.

Todd Pacific Shipyard was awarded a $114.1 million contract to build the Salish and another 64-car ferry in late 2009.

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