State ferry Hyak sails into retirement

After removing equipment, the boat will be for sale
By Brian Soergel | Jul 10, 2019
Photo by: Brian Soergel The 144-car ferry Hyak, seen here in December on the Edmonds-Kingston run, has had its last trip plying the Salish Sea.

More than seven months after the Washington State Ferry Hyak filled in admirably on the Edmonds-Kingston run, and after nearly 52 years in the fleet, the Hyak was decommissioned June 30 following its 9:05 p.m. scheduled sailing from Seattle to Bremerton.

The reason, beside it being an old boat?

WSF says it’s due to a lack of legislative funding in the 2019-21 state transportation budget. So the Hyak is now moored at the Eagle Harbor Maintenance Facility on Bainbridge Island, where crews will remove all usable equipment and prepare the ferry for sale.

Details on the sale of Hyak will be announced in the coming months. As state property, decommissioned ferries must be sold through the state surplus process.

Hyak was the first of WSF’s four Super class ferries. Construction began in 1966 at the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company shipyard in San Diego. Upon completion in 1967, it sailed up the coast to its new home in Seattle, entering state service on the Seattle-Bremerton route in July of that year.

Over the last half-century, Hyak has sailed on almost every WSF route, primarily serving Seattle-Bremerton in recent years.

It served the Edmonds-Kingston route for more than a decade, sailed often in the San Juan Islands, and even served as a relief vessel for the busy Seattle-Bainbridge Island route many years ago.

On Dec. 1, the 144-car Hyak replaced the 188-car Spokane, which was due for maintenance. It was the No. 2 boat on the Edmonds-Kingston run (the 188-boat Walla Walla being No. 1) through the end of Dec. 15.

It was during that time that storm chaser Ben Jurkovich took a video on waves crashing over the boat that made the rounds on local and national TV. The Beacon featured Jurkovich in a story.

While the Spokane and Walla are Jumbo class boats – at 440-feet, only trailing the 460-foot Jumbo Mark II class – the smaller Hyak, as part of the ferries’ Super class, is a 382-footer.

While the oldest, the Hyak was among the fastest; its name is taken from Chinook jargon for “fast or speedy.”

WSF fleet downsized

Hyak’s retirement will reduce the size of the WSF fleet from 23 to 22 ferries, said WSF spokesman Ian Sterling.

WSF requires 19 vessels to fully operate the summer schedule, and, with 12 more boats due for retirement in the next 20 years, there is an increased risk of service disruptions due to routine maintenance requirements and unexpected repairs that become more common with old vessels.

While Sterling said every effort is made to minimize effects on service when ferries need repairs, WSF recently released a 2019 Alternate Service Plan ( to help customers understand how decisions are made and plan for potential disruptions in ferry service that could occur during the busy summer season.


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