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Lummi Island vehicle ferry scheduled to resume service today

The view from the deck of the Whatcom Chief during sea trials after unplanned engine repairs (October 30, 2021). Photo courtesy Whatcom County Ferry Division

LUMMI ISLAND, Wash. — Lummi Island ferry riders have been limited to passenger-only service for 2 days since Whatcom County Public Works Ferry Division officials took the Whatcom Chief out of service due to engine issues. Today, October 30th, officials announced plans to return it to service this afternoon.

About 11am on Thursday, October 28th, the vehicle ferry, Whatcom Chief, was taken out of service. It was announced soon after that a passenger-only ferry was being brought in since it appeared the Whatcom Chief would be out of service for at least 24 hours while being repaired in Bellingham. Converting to passenger-only service required awaiting the arrival of the passenger-only ferry and making necessary changes to the floats and dock equipment to fit it. Runs between Gooseberry Point and Lummi Island began about 7:40pm Thursday.

It was determined parts and repairs were needed to address the engine issues. In order to speed up the process by avoiding a requirement for putting such an expenditure out for bids, County Executive Satpal Sidhu signed an emergency proclamation that allowed waiving that requirement.

Ferry Division officials announced Friday afternoon that needed parts had been acquired and repairs were underway. It was hoped the Whatcom Chief would be ready for sea trials by this morning, Saturday.

This morning, Ferry Division officials announced sea trials had gone well and they were in the process of returning the Whatcom Chief into service. This would again require making changes to the floats and dock equipment to fit the Whatcom Chief.

The passenger-only ferry stopped running about 10am. Officials are planning to have the Whatcom Chief back in service by 4pm, possibly sooner.

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