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Newest state ferry in service today

chetzemoka.jpg
Beth Redfield photo.
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The Chetzemoka at her official first voyage on Sunday. It's the state's newest ferry, carrying 64 cars.

The first new car ferry in Washington State in more than a decade enters scheduled service in Port Townsend this morning.  The Chetzemoka (pronounced CHET-za-MOCH-ah) was christened Sunday.

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kplu/local-kplu-934966.mp3

The new ferry is named after the 19th century Indian chief Chetzemoka. The ferry system and the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe located descendents of the chief to help bless the new vessel.

At Sunday's ceremonies, sailors sang shanties to entertain the boatload of dignitaries and chamber of commerce types on the inaugural sailing between Whidbey Island and Port Townsend.

At $77 million, the Chetzemoka is quite expensive for a ferry with a 64-car capacity. Part of the high cost can be traced to votes in Olympia to require new ferries be built here in Washington.

That resulted in there being only one bidder to build this boat and two sister ships now under construction.

Tom Banse covers national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reports from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events are unfolding. Tom's stories can be found online and heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.