Washington State Ferries, a division of the Washington State Department of Transportation, said it
sold its smallest retired ferry, the Hiyu, to a local company that plans to repurpose the 50-year-old vessel as an entertainment venue.
"We make every effort to keep our retired ferries operational, instead of being sold for scrap," said WSF Chief of Staff Elizabeth Kosa. "I'm pleased the Hiyu will continue to serve Washingtonians on the water in her second life as a floating entertainment locale."
WSF said it is the largest U.S. ferry system, and carries 24 million people a year.
It had operated the Hiyu from 1967 until 2016, but said the vessel had "outlived her usefulness to move people and goods across Puget Sound."
The announcement noted that the Hiyu, whose name means "plenty," is only 162 ft. long, has capacity to carry just 34 vehicles, lacks accommodations to meet federal disabilities requirements and had high maintenance costs. It could
carry a maximum of 199 passengers.
The vessel had served several different routes, mostly the Point Defiance/Tahlequah and San Juan Islands inter-island routes. The ferry system put it in storage for more than decade starting in the late 1990s, but said the Hiyu re-emerged in recent years as a relief vessel and became known in the region as "baby Hiyu."
Its last ferry sailing was July 23, 2015. It has most recently been at the WSF's Eagle Harbor shipyard, but the agency said its new home will be on Lake Union.
The Hiyu is one of two state ferries the agency retired and put up for sale in 2016; it sold for $150,000. WSF said it now is in negotiation with parties interested in purchasing the second ferry, the much larger Evergreen State, but that no firm sale agreements are in place.