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Video: State's oldest ferry MV Hyak to be retired soon

The MV Hyak, which has sailed the Puget Sound for over 50 years, will soon be retired from the Washington State Ferries fleet. (Photo: KOMO News)

The state's oldest ferry will soon set sail on Puget Sound for the last time.

The MV Hyak just celebrated it's 50th year of service in 2017 and earned a gold stripe to mark it's half century on the water.

The ferry came into service in 1967 and walking onto the boat's bridge is like walking into a time capsule.

A pulley sounds the horn.

Individual chairs still line the center of the floor on the passenger deck. Once upon a time, the chairs used to be moved so passengers could square dance while they sailed.

The 382-feet ferry has sailed two major runs: Seattle to Bremerton and Anacortes to the San Juans.

They Hyak has been a workhorse of the ferry fleet with one of the best reliability records.

"We can stop from 17 knots to a dead stop in the water in 38 seconds," said chief engineer Dave Knutsen, who has worked on the Hyak for 10 years. "A lot of the boats in the fleet are a minute."

But the aging vessel has racked up about $37 million in needed repairs - forcing the state to retire it from the fleet.

They Hyak's replacement, the new Olympic Class Suquamish, is just months away from sea trials and is expected to be in service by this fall.

The roster change could mark a big change for Knutsen.

After 40 years with the ferry service, he wants to time his own retirement with the Hyak's final sailing.

"I like old cars and they don't do anything as good as the new cars, except that feeling that you get driving an old car," said Knutsen.

But, their goodbyes may have to wait.

The State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is allowed to have 22 boats in service.

WSDOT is asking the state legislature to let them keep the Hyak so it can be used when other boats need to be taken out of service for repairs.

"We can catch up with some of the maintenance work that needs to be done on our other 22 vessels and have the Hyak come in as a pinch hitter," said Justin Fujioka from WSDOT.

An official date for the Hyak's retirement has not yet been set.

"It will be a little sad to see it go," said Knutsen.





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