Official Number: 206030 Built: 1909, Portland Oregon Former Name: H.B. Kennedy Length: 185' 3" Beam: 44.2' Draft: 11' 2"
Passenger Capacity: 1000 Auto Capacity: 47 Speed: 18 knots
Propulsion: one four-cylinder triple-expansion engine with cylinders Horsepower: 2,000
|Scrapping the Seattle...
When the ferries arrived from San Francisco, Captain
Peabody wasted no time in divesting himself of the older,
more costly to run steam ferries. Between 1938-39, more
than a dozen of the steam powered vessels were sold or
Here the Seattle paints a sad picture in 1939 as she is
broken apart. Author's collection.
"The trend toward larger inland passenger steamers of steel construction
and high speed for service on the principal Puget Sound routes was
furthered in 1909 by the arrival of the handsome two-funnel propeller
steamer H. B. Kennedy, built at Portland by the Willamette Iron & Steel Co.
for the Navy Yard route of H. B. Kennedy and the Puget Sound Navigation
Co. Of 499 tons, with dimensions of 179.2 x 28.1 x 11.3, the Kennedy was
powered by a four-cylinder triple-expansion engine with steam at 350 pounds
working pressure and developing 2,000 horsepower.
Many hot disputes arose among marine observers regarding the speed of
the new steamer following her arrival early in the year, and in September she
was raced over the measured mile at the request of Moran & Co., who were
already interested in the possible construction of another express steamer of
similar speed for the Seattle-Tacoma route (these plans eventually
culminating in the famous steamer Tacoma of 1913). The test was made off
Vashon Island with President Joshua Green and Manager Frank Burns of the
Puget Sound Navigation Co., J. V. Paterson, president and general manager
of the Moran Co. ' and a number of other prominent guests aboard. It was
understood that under full power she achieved the excellent speed of about
21 miles an hour.
Upon her arrival on the Sound the H. B. Kennedy was the victim of a number
of mechanical breakdowns, culminated late in the year by the breaking of her
shaft, which put her on the rocks, damaging her plates and putting her
machinery out of order. In December she was withdrawn from
service and delivered to the Moran yard for an extensive overhaul, after
which she resumed her service with excellent results. Capt. William E.
Mitchell commanded the steamer the first eight years of her operation,
during which she logged 408,000 miles."--Gordon Newell, "Maritime Events
of 1909," H.W. McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest., p. 159.
The “Navy Yard Route” as the Seattle-Bremerton route was called, while
operated by PSN was considered separate from other PSN service. Even the
livery of the vessels on the route was different, with the stacks of the Navy
Yard Route vessels being painted yellow until the steamers were converted
to ferries in the early 1920’s.
Built in 1909 the H.B. Kennedy, became the premiere vessel on the run. She
was a comfortable, luxuriously fitted out vessel, with carved wood paneling
and overstuffed seats. She was also fast, making the run in under 45
For the next decade she hauled passengers to and from Bremerton, but as
ferries took over the Navy Yard Route, she was shifted to the Seattle-
Tacoma run to take over for the Indianapolis. It was at this time she was
Commuters were demanding more service from auto ferries and the City of
Bremerton wasn’t up to meet the demand. Traffic was falling on the Seattle-
Tacoma run as roads became better, so PSN withdrew the Seattle from the
run and totally rebuilt the steamer. Her lower decks cleared out, the steamer
was widened to carry cars. Her cabin was expanded but retained all the
fittings and luxury from her steamer days, with the addition of ladies’ lounge
and smoking room. The steam plant was left in place, and surprisingly her
speed wasn’t altered at all.
Paired with Chippewa, the Seattle went back to work on the Seattle-
Bremerton route where the ferry remained very popular with commuters. As
diesel began to displace steam on Puget Sound, the Seattle’s days were
numbered. The Kalakala appeared in 1935, displacing the Seattle to the
Seattle-Indianola-Suquamish run—much to the consternation of Bremerton
commuters. The Kalakala could not maintain the Seattle’s schedule, and
furthermore rattled and shook so much that coffee could only be sold by the
half-cup. Many complained, demanding the Seattle back, but eventually the
Kalakala worked into a routine with the Chippewa, and only a few years later
two more ferries were added to the route.
The arrival of the more efficient Wood Electrics spelled the end of the old
steamer. The Seattle was withdrawn from service and scrapped in 1939.