Built: 1947 Length: 180' Beam: Draft: Propulsion: 800 HP Union diesel Speed: 12 knots
Auto Capacity: 40 cars
The M.R. Chessman seen near the end of her career making a crossing on a rare windless day on the Columbia. Photo courtesy of Cliff West.
| The M.R. Chessman was named after Merle R. Chessman, member of the Highway Commission from April 8, 1943 to October 1, 1946. The Albina Engine and Machine Works, Portland, Or., built the boat, for the state of Oregon, in 1947, and went into service April 1948.
The largest ferry on the route from Astoria to Megler, Washington, she ran from 1948 until August 1966, when the Columbia River Bridge opened. This ferry was sold in 1966 and sent to Vietnam to serve as a ferry on the Mekong Delta as a repair shop. Renamed the Lieu Lo III (various sources also have her listed as the HQ9602 ) she was stationed at Cat Lai, about 7 miles E. of Saigon, and served about sixty river patrol craft, plying the Rung Zat zone channels & inland waterways farther north.
What became of the ferry after that is unknown. It is possible she is still somewhere in Viet Nam, either rusting away, sunk, or possible even still in use.