M.V. WALLA WALLA
Official Number: 546382 Call Sign: WYX2158 Length: 440' Beam: 87' Draft: 18' Clearance: 15' 6'' Horsepower: 11,500 Speed in Knots: 18 Max Passengers:
2000 Max Vehicles: 188 City Built: Seattle Year Built/Re-built: 1972 Name Translation: Nez Perce for "place of many waters."
The Walla Walla arrives in Edmonds in 2016. Photo courtesy of Dietrich Menzer. Whistle recording courtesy of Guy de Gouville.
Other than the first four months of her first year in service, the Walla
Walla has been a Central Sound ferry. Working along side her sister
Spokane, the pair were the two ferries seen on the Seattle-Winslow
route for decades, becoming the subject of countless postcards and
quite often seen in "establishing Seattle" shots in motion pictures.
Displaced over a decade ago by the Mark II class, the Walla Walla
has spent most of her time either filling in for the Spokane when she
is out for maintenance or working the Seattle-Bremerton run.
One of the last ferries to receive a complete interior upgrade, the
Walla Walla had minor upgrades from her days of 1970's orange.
The "tea cup" seats had been reupholstered in blue and the gold
carpet had been replaced with a gray-blue, which quickly stained. A
tile walk way was put in. The "upgrade lite" extended the life of the
interior, but at over 30 years of age, the original fittings were simply
worn out and in need of replacement.
In 2005 the Wally went into the yard for major work including new
engines, security upgrades and a much needed interior upgrade.
Returning to service late in 2005 the ferry looked like a new vessel.
Redesigned in shades of green and tan, the interior looks bright and
modern. Use of art glass panels added an elegant touch and the
large relief map which has been a favorite for kids for generations was
In the fall of 2012 the ferry experienced a catastrophic failure when
the drive motor was basically cooked during routine maintenance. A
total loss, a replacement was installed and after being out of service
over six months the ferry returned to service in the Spring of 2013.
The Walla Walla spends her time either at Bremerton or filling in on
the Kingston-Edmonds run. The Jumbos, with a passenger capacity
at 2,000, are no longer switched out on the Seattle-Bainbridge run,
where the extra 500 capacity is often needed on commuter runs. As a
result, when the Tacoma or Wentachee go out for annual inspections
or routine maintenance, the Puyallup is sent down from the Kingston
run to take the place of the missing Mark II.
|Gone Clam Digging...
At right, perhaps the most infamous incident in the Walla
Walla's long history is when she went aground on the
sandbar off Wing Point while departing Winslow in a heavy
fog. It was an extremely lucky grounding. Had the ferry
been in any other kind of material than what she was in
(sand and gravel) she would have rolled over and been a
complete loss. Photo courtesy of Tom Sanislo.
The refurbished interior of the Walla Walla is perhaps one of the nicest updates in the fleet. The
greens and tans used throughout the boat are a 100 % improvement over the previous interior.
Mouse over for the "before" photo, which show what were possibly the most uncomfortable seats
ever put in a Washington State Ferry, the much dreaded "tea cups," which finally met their end in
2005. Originally upholstered in orange, the chairs were arranged in such a way it was nearly
impossible to hold a conversation without causing a stiff neck. Photo courtesy of Matt Masuoka and
photo by the author.