MV Rhododendron

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MV Rhododendron arriving at Tahlequah Ferry Terminal
Name: 1947-1951: Gov. Herbert R. O'Conner
1951-present: MV Rhododendron
Owner: 1947-1951: Claiborne-Annapolis Ferry Company
1951-present: WSDOT
Operator: 1947-1951: Claiborne-Annapolis Ferry Company
1951-present: Washington State Ferries
Port of registry: 1951-present: Seattle, Washington,  United States
Builder: Maryland Drydock Company, Baltimore
Completed: 1947
Refit: 1990
Identification: Official Number:2516446
Call Sign: WB6079[1]
Status: In Service
General characteristics
Class and type: Rhododendron Class auto/passenger ferry
Length: 227 ft 6 in (69.3 m)
Beam: 62 ft (18.9 m)
Draft: 10 ft (3.0 m)
Deck clearance: 13 ft 6 in (4.1 m)
Installed power: 2,172 hp from 2 Diesel engines
Speed: 11 kn (20 km/h; 13 mph)
Capacity: 546 passengers
48 vehicles (max 15 commercial)[2]

The Motor Vessel Rhododendron is the sole Rhododendron Class ferry operated by Washington State Ferries.

She is named for the state flower of Washington, the rhododendron.

The Rhododendron is one of two similar Chesapeake Bay ferries that were purchased to become part of the WSF fleet in the 1950s; the other being the now-retired MV Olympic. The Rhododendron's former name was the MV Governor Herbert R. O'Conner. She was originally purchased to be used in the interim while other new ferries were being built.

Service history

Her original use in Washington from 1953 to 1961 was on a route from the Olympic Peninsula to the Kitsap Peninsula, near the current site of the Hood Canal Bridge. Her service there ended when the current bridge was built.

At that time, she was reunited with the Olympic and reassigned to the Mukilteo-Clinton route, where she stayed until 1974.

In 1975, Washington State Ferries acquired the Port Townsend to Keystone route from a private company and reassigned the Rhododendron and the Olympic to this route.

In 1983, the Rhododendron was mothballed and stored at the WSF maintenance facility at Eagle Harbor. In 1990, the ferry was scheduled for a complete reconditioning. Due to her construction, she is currently not permitted to operate more than one mile (1.6 km) from shore, so in 1993 was reassigned to the Point Defiance to Vashon Island route, a 12 minute trip that is a total of 1.5 miles (2.4 km) long.[1]

As of July 2007, she is serving the Point Defiance (Tacoma)-Tahlequah route[3]. She has sailed that route since 1993.

In 2008 the Rhodendron has also been sailing for Pierce County out of Anderson Island due to troubles on the Christine Anderson.

The Rhododendron is scheduled to be retired in 2012 and be replaced by an Island Home type vessel.