Official Number: 508159 Call Sign: WX9133 Length: 162' Beam: 63' 1'' Draft: 11' 3'' Horsepower: 860 Speed in Knots: 10 Max Passengers: 200 Max Vehicles: 34
Auto Deck Clearance: 16' City Built: Portland Year Built/Re-built: 1967 Meaning of Hiyu: Native American/Chinook: "plenty."
Return to home waters: June of 2007 saw the reactivation of the M/V Hiyu after a ten year absence. The Rhododendron, which normally serves the Point Defiance- Tahlequah run suffered a rudder flop and with no other boats to replace her, the Hiyu was dusted off and sent back to work. Photo courtesy of Matt Masuoka.
| With the only thing spoken about the Hiyu in years was about its impending sale, it was a surprise to ferry watchers when the little ferry was reactivated in the spring of 2007. Work was done to bring her up to a working standard again, including safety upgrades and other work.
It proved to be a wise decision as June of 2007 saw the Hiyu return to service after a decade of sitting in Eagle Harbor when the Rhododendron suffered a rudder flop and was unexpectedly pulled from service for repairs. At the time there were no other vessels available for use due to maintenance and other issues—the Hiyu was it.
More unexpected issues arose in November of 2007 when all four Steel Electrics were suddenly withdrawn from service due to hull corrosion issues. Quite suddenly the Hiyu, which carries a mere 34 cars, found itself in an unenviable position: the only back up ferry in the fleet.
Since its reactivation the Hiyu has been working more often than not. She will fill in at Point Defiance or as the inter-island ferry in the San Juan Islands. In both spots it is painfully evident that her useful days are really over; however, 34 cars moved across the water is still 34 cars moved across the water.
The governor’s budget for 2009 called for the Hiyu to be put back into service in place of the Rhododendron. It was an ill-conceived idea. The ferry is unable to keep up with traffic at Point Defiance, resulting in nearly constant extra service calls, and perhaps more critically, the ferry is not ADA (American Disabilities Act) compliant and cannot be retrofitted to meet the standard.
Fortunately the legislature didn’t agree with the proposal and the idea of replacing the Rhody was dropped. She was retried in 2012 and replaced by the Chetzemoka.
Meanwhile, the little ferry that could will be held in reserve to shuttle its 30-34 cars when the desperate need for it is called for.
|The cabins are small, but comfortable. Photo courtesy of Matt Masuoka.|
On to the Super Class
|The Hiyu's Twin
Far from the cold waters of Puget Sound, a near twin of the Hiyu worked in Hawaii between Ford Island and Oahu. Christened Moko Holo Hele, which translates to "ship that goes back and forth" the ferry was known as YFB 87 to her owner, the US Navy.
Built by Western Boatbuilding of Tacoma in 1970, the ferry was sold by the Navy in 1999.