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
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
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
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 over-height 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.
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.
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.