Ceremony planned to welcome new ferry to Whidbey route

Washington State Ferries will welcome its newest ferry to the fleet, the M/V Kennewick, during a special celebration on Jan. 6 in Port Townsend.

The 64-car ferry, built in part by Nichols Brothers Boat Builders of Freeland, is the third and final ship in the Kwa-di Tabil class.

The new ferry will serve on the Coupeville (Keystone)-Port Townsend route, but its first day of service won't be announced until early January.

At the community celebration on Friday, Jan. 6, the new ferry will be open for public tours after invited dignitaries make remarks at 11 a.m. Organizers of the event noted there will not be event parking at the Port Townsend Terminal, and that the ferry M/V Salish will operate on its normal schedule that day.

WSF officials said the Kennewick was finished three months ahead of schedule and the three-ferry project came in at $6.7 million under budget.

The first Kwa-di Tabil-class vessel, the M/V Chetzemoka, was christened on Nov. 14, 2010 and went into service the following day on the Keystone route.

The second 64-car ferry, the M/V Salish, started service between Whidbey Island and Port Townsend on July 1.

When the ferry Kennewick starts sailing on the route next year, the Chetzemoka will be moved to the Point Defiance-Tahlequah route to replace the M/V Rhododendron, and the Salish will go into standby status until the return of the peak season.

The three ferries were built under two contracts with Todd Pacific Shipyards, now Vigor Industrial, and Nichols Brothers was a subcontractor on the vessels, constructing the superstructures for the ferries at the Freeland shipyard.

The Chetzemoka was built under a $65.5 million contract, while the second and third ferries were constructed under a $114.1 million agreement with Todd Pacific Shipyards.

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