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Washington State Ferries retires Hyak after 52 years

It's being decommissioned because the state legislature decided not to fund costly maintenance. Lawmakers instead chose to fund new boats.

SEATTLE — Washington State Ferries is losing a workhorse boat as it heads into the busy summer travel season.

The organization is retiring the ferry Hyak after nearly 52 years of service. Hyak's final sailing will be Sunday night.

The ferry has been decommissioned because the state legislature decided not to fund costly maintenance, WSF said. Lawmakers instead chose to fund new boats.

The loss of the Hyak means the ferry system is down to 22 boats from 23. 

WSF says it requires 19 ferries to fully operate its summer schedule. The Hyak was most recently used as a back-up vessel when others break down.

RELATED: Public invited to weigh in on proposed hike of ferry fares

“The bench just got a little less deep,” said Ian Sterling, a WSF spokesman, “It's great that we were able to build a new boat, but that's probably close to three years out.”

The Hyak’s final scheduled sailing is Seattle to Bremerton at 9:05 pm Sunday. WDF maintenance crews will then remove all usable equipment and prepare the vessel for sale.

“This boat could just keep running, we could get ten more years out of this thing,” said Dave Knutsen, staff chief engineer of the Hyak.

Like the Hyak, Knutsen is also retiring after 42 years with WSF. He worked on the Hyak for 12 years.

12 more boats are slated for retirement over the next 20 years, WSF said.

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