The Pierce County ferry Christine Anderson returned to regularly scheduled service June 16 on the runs between Steilacoom and Anderson and Ketron islands. The vessel had been out of service since June 3 for repairs and was replaced by the Washington State Ferries’ M/V Rhododendron.
The Christine Anderson went into dry dock after experiencing a broken shaft seal May 24. It returned to Steilacoom from dry dock and replaced the Rhododendron on the last two runs Saturday.
The Rhododendron returned to service on the state run between Point Defiance and Tahlequah on Vashon Island.
The state is leasing Pierce County’s primary ferry, the Steilacoom II, for its open-water run between Port Townsend and Keystone on Whidbey Island. Pierce County requested that the Steilacoom II be returned in accordance with the lease agreement, which provides for the ferry’s return in the event of an emergency.
However, the Rhododendron isn’t approved by the Coast Guard for open water use and isn’t available for Port Townsend/Whidbey service. That leaves the state without an available vessel for that run. The state asked the county to consider using the Rhododendron, and the county agreed to that option.
The Christine Anderson, which joined the county fleet in July 1994, is 213 feet in length and can carry 54 cars and 250 passengers. It is virtually identical to the newer MV Steilacoom II.