A post by Tim Flanagan on the Puget Sound Maritime blog here.

Puget Sound residents may get a glimpse at the new state ferry Chetzemoka this week as it travels through the Sound on sea trials. Contractor Todd Pacific Shipyards is required to conduct these trials to demonstrate the vessel to U.S. Coast Guard and WSDOT Ferries Division (WSF) inspectors before WSF accepts delivery of the vessel.

The sea trials team is comprised of a Master and crew hired by Todd with their Test and Trials Department. The sea trials must be conducted away from other marine traffic to complete the demonstrations efficiently and without interference from other vessels. Later this month, WSF crews will begin operational training and familiarization with the Chetzemoka on the Port Townsend/Keystone route in preparation for the vessel to begin service in late August.

Approved contract change orders have granted an additional 30 days to the delivery schedule. WSF and Todd have developed an integrated delivery schedule which will allow Todd to complete final outfitting while WSF conducts crew training and familiarization. WSF will meet its August 2010 service delivery milestone.

The Chetzemoka is the first new Washington State Ferry of the 21stcentury, and the first step in replacing the ferry system’s aging fleet to ensure continued safe and reliable service. The inaugural sailing of the Chetzemoka will occur on Sunday, August 29, with celebrations on Whidbey Island, aboard the Chetzemoka, and in Port Townsend. The events are currently in the planning phases, and more information will be provided as details are confirmed.

For more information about the Chetzemoka please visit www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/Ferries/64CarFerries.