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The Salish begins sea trials

State Senate Transportation committee chair Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, christens the MV Salish at Todd Shipyards on Jan. 4, 2011.

You may see a new Washington State Ferry on Puget Sound waters this week. The Salish is being put through its sea trials. The vessel, built by Todd Pacific Shipyards in Seattle, is expected to begin service this summer on the Port Townsend-Coupeville route. The run has gone without full two-boat service since 2007.

Once the vessel meets approval by Coast Guard and the WSDOT Ferries division, the state will accept delivery. Operational training begins later this spring on the Port Townsend-Coupeville run.

The Salish is the second of three ferries being built for the state for a total cost of $213.2 million. The boats can carry 64 cars and 1,200 passengers. The Chetzemoka went into service on the Port Townsend-Coupeville route last December. The third vessel, the Kennewick, is still under construction and is expected to begin service on the  Point Defiance-Tahlequah run this winter.

The new boats were commissioned after extensive hull corrosion was discovered on the state's old Steel Electric ferries. The boats, built in the 1920s, were immediately pulled out of service due to safety concerns.

Dave Meyer has been anchoring KNKX news shows since 1987. He grew up along the shores of Hood Canal near Belfair and graduated from Washington State University with degrees in communications and psychology.

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