Historical Summary:

Virginia V pen &ink

In 1921 Anderson & Company of Maplewood, Washington, began construction on Virginia V. The ship was built of local old-growth fir. She was launched March 9, 1922, and towed to downtown Seattle for the installation of her engine and steam plant. In Seattle the engine was removed from Virginia IV and installed in Virginia V. On June 11, 1922, Virginia V made her maiden voyage from Elliott Bay in Seattle to Tacoma down the West Pass. She continued to make this voyage nearly every day until 1938.

Virginia V Line Drawing by Rick Etsell

The Engine & Steam Plant

The Engine


The Boiler (“Steam Plant”)

Steam Engine Type: Triple-Expansion Double-Acting Reciprocating   Boiler: Babcock & Wilcox Watertube Boiler
10,000 lbs/hr steam @ 200 psi working pressure
Indicated Horsepower: 400  
Built in the U.S.A. in 2000, re-certified annually by the U.S. Coast Guard for use in a passenger boat
Maximum RPM: Approximately 200  
Cylinder Bore (Diameter): 10 1/2 inches, 16 3/4 inches, and 28.5 inches (HP, IP, and LP respectively)   Diesel oil fired, burns about 30-50 gallons / hour of fuel
Piston Stroke: 18 inches   The boiler was always oil-fired, although cord wood was stoked into the firebox to get the steam up when the boiler was cold. Once the boiler was heated, the oil burner was engaged.
Year Built: 1898 in Pioneer Square, Seattle, WA  

The Virginia V’s engine is one of two identical steam engines built by Heffernan Iron Works for the U.S. Government. One was accepted and installed in the U.S. Army Quartermaster Steamer Evan Thomas, and the other was sold in 1904 to the Lorenz Brothers for the Tyrus, later renamed Virginia IV. After the Virginia V was launched, the brand new hull was towed to to the King Street Drydock in Seattle where on April 2, 1922, the engine, boiler and condenser were transferred from the Virginia IV to the Virginia V.

(The Virginia IV sank that night because the loose engine mount bolts allowed water to fill the hull. Six months later she was raised, and sold to Canoe Pass Packing Company. They re-powered her with a diesel engine and used her as a cannery tender)


Jean McMinn aboard Virginia V
Capt. Rick Etsell's mother, Jean McMinn, center, off to Camp Sealth aboard Virginia V, c. 1941