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Chetzemoka makes inaugural sailing.

The first new ferry in Washington state in more than a decade will make its inaugural sailing Sunday, Nov. 14, between Whidbey Island and Port Townsend.

The 64-vehicle MV Chetzemoka, named after the late Klallam Chief Chetzemoka, will be christened by Gov. Chris Gregoire and recognized by the Klallam tribes. Chief Chetzemoka was known as a peaceful man and a wise diplomat who was believed to be about 80 when he died in 1888.

The governor, legislators, state and local officials and an estimated 300 invited guests from communities on both sides of Admiralty Inlet will board the vessel at the Whidbey Island Coupeville (Keystone) terminal following ceremonies. They will take a one-hour cruise to Port Townsend where representatives of the Klallam tribes will conduct a ceremony aboard the Chetzemoka.

Afterwards, the 750-passenger ferry will be available for public viewing in Port Townsend. Many people from the Olympic Peninsula and Whidbey Island are expected to attend the events at both terminals.

An inaugural sailing was originally scheduled for August, but was delayed when excessive vibrations were discovered in sea trials and later resolved by the shipbuilder.

David Moseley, assistant secretary of the Ferries Division, said two other Kwa-di Tabil Class ferries are under construction to replace some of the state’s aging ferry fleet and provide safe, reliable and efficient service.

Total cost of the Chetzemoka, including construction, contingency and construction management, is $76.5 million.

With the launch of the Chetzemoka, the state will stop using the 50-vehicle Steilacoom II, which it leased from Pierce County for nearly three years.

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