Central Whidbey ferry halted for eight hours

The Steilacoom II was out of service for nearly eight hours Thursday while work crews made repairs.

That meant service on the Port Townsend/Keystone ferry route was canceled and motorists had to find alternate routes across Admiralty Inlet.

At approximately 11 a.m. Thursday morning, an electrical control unit on an auxiliary generator broke. Hadley Greene, spokesperson for Washington State Ferries, said it was originally anticipated that the Steilacoom II would have been out of service for the remainder of the day while repairs were made. However, crews were able to expedite repairs in time for the 6:45 p.m. departure from Port Townsend.

While the ferry was being repaired, motorists were diverted south to the Clinton/Mukilteo route and then to the Edmonds/Kingston route to make their way to the Olympic Peninsula. From Port Townsend, people had to drive to Kingston or all the way around the Sound.

The ferry system leased the Steilacoom II from Pierce County to provide car ferry service after the old Steel Electric ferries were pulled from service in November because of safety concerns.

When the Steilacoom II goes out of service, the ferry system doesn’t have a vessel available that is capable of navigating the difficult entrance into Keystone Harbor.

Two replacement vessels will be built to serve the route, but those won’t be ready until 2010.

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