Iconic Puget Sound Ferry to be Scrapped

January 7, 2015

The historic ferry Kalakala has reached its final destination.

The owner plans to have the rusting hulk scrapped later this month in Tacoma, Wash., The News Tribune reported Sunday.

Constructed with the hull of another ship, the 276-foot Kalakala went into service in 1935 on Puget Sound and carried millions of cars between Seattle and Bremerton until 1967. In the days before the Space Needle, the silver art deco style vessel was the postcard symbol of Seattle.

Then it was decommissioned and towed to Alaska and used as a crab and fish processor at Dutch Harbor and Kodiak.

The Kalakala was “discovered” and towed back to Seattle in 1998 with high hopes for a restoration to turn it into a museum, restaurant or tourist attraction. But the owners never came up with enough money. It was towed to several locations, arriving in 2004 on the Hylebos Waterway.

In 2011, the Coast Guard said it was so corroded it was in danger of imminent sinking and declared the Kalakala a hazard to navigation.

The moorage owner, Karl Anderson, says he has spent about a $500,000 on pumps, security and removing hazardous materials. He estimates it will cost another $500,000 to prepare the Kalakala for demolition.

“Karl’s generosity is the only thing that allowed the boat to come to Tacoma,” said Don Meyer, former director of the Foss Waterway Development Authority and current Port of Tacoma commissioner.

“No one else wanted it. They viewed it as a liability. I’m just happy it didn’t turn out to be a nightmare,” Meyer said. “I’m just happy that Karl has taken it to the last step, bless his heart. He has stepped up not just with talk but with real money.”

The Kalakala “cannot be saved. Anybody who wants to stop this should have about $25 million in their pocket,” Meyer said.

The last voyage is scheduled for Jan. 22, when it will be towed from the Hylebos to a graveyard on the Blair Waterway.

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