Built: 1954 Official Number: 267527 Call Sign: WF6787 Length: 242' 1.5" Engines: 2 Beam: 65'1.5" Horsepower: 1,200 Draft: 11' 6''Speed in Knots: 13 Max Passengers: 350 Propulsion: Diesel-Electric(DC) Max Vehicles: 65 Gross Tonnage: 678 City Built: Oakland, CA
Year Built/Re-built: 1954
The Crown City in her heyday, the 1950's. Photo courtesy of Brandon Moser.
| Don't believe rumors that the old Washington State Ferry Kulshan sank a number of years ago in New York Harbor: she's alive and well and still sailing today.
The Crown City was the jewel in the San Diego-Coronado Ferry Company fleet. Built in 1954, she was the most modern ferry on the water, and her design reflected that. More barge-like in appearance, the open deck was well suited for sunny San Diego. Many pleasant sunny and temperate afternoons could be spent walking the open car deck, watching the city of San Diego approach in the distance.
In her role as the Kulshan, this attribute would prove to be less than popular.
Edging out the San Diego as the darling of postcards of the ferries in San Diego, the Crown City too was forced out of a job in 1969.
In need of expanding the fleet with more reliable vessels, Washington State Ferries snapped up the Crown City and refurbished her, sending her to the Clinton-Mukilteo route, where she worked for many years. As her career was winding down with Washington State Ferries, she moved around, working on Hood Canal after the floating bridge sank, and even making a brief appearance in the film An Officer and A Gentleman. (About mid-way through the film. Debra Winger is walking across the deck and her placard reading KULSHAN is easily seen.)
WSF sold her in 1982 to the Coast Guard--at a hefty profit. The ex- Crown City went out to New York, renamed Governor, working from Governor's Island to New York City. (The Coast Guard isn't known for giving ferries imaginative names, from what I've been told.) They added a narrow passenger cabin to one side of the boat, but otherwise left the ferry unchanged.
The Coast Guard finished up with her in 1994, and put her up for sale. The ferry authority at Martha's Vineyard purchased the ferry, where she has been ever since.
Today the old Crown City is used primarily as a back up vessel, but that open car deck that was so unpopular in Washington State has become an asset on the Vineyard. With no overheight restrictions, the vessel is very handy for getting 16 wheel trucks carrying freight over to the island.
See the entry on the KULSHAN for more photos.
|At left, a hand-tinted postcard from the 1950's. At right, an early color card of the ferry. At some point, the woodwork around her pilot house was removed. Author's collection.|
|At left, as the Kulshan at Mukilteo. At right, the live camera of the Vineyard often will catch the old Crown City sailing into port. In 2010, the Ferry Authority repowered the vessel with direct drive diesels, ensuring her use for many years to come. Author's collection.|
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