Human error blamed for $3 million Washington State ferry motor meltdown

Mar 11, 2013, 11:44 AM | Updated: 12:33 pm
A photo of the damaged motor on the ferry Walla Walla taken last fall shows the damage from an elec...
A photo of the damaged motor on the ferry Walla Walla taken last fall shows the damage from an electrical meltdown a new report determined was caused by human error and completely avoidable. (WSF image)
(WSF image)

A new report says human error is to blame for the meltdown of an electric drive motor last November aboard the Washington State Ferry Walla Walla that disabled the vessel.

The findings, issued Monday, say the Nov. 4, 2012 failure was avoidable and the fault of numerous mistakes made by crew members doing routine annual maintenance at the ferry system’s Bainbridge Island maintenance facility.

The report also says repair costs will total nearly $3 million, far more than the original $300,000 estimates.

According to the report, crew members did not understand the complex work they were doing, which is rarely performed at the Eagle Harbor facility on the 188-car Jumbo-class ferry. There were no written procedures or checklists for the work, and crew members improperly prepared electrical equipment for the maintenance procedure.

Investigators also faulted poor communications between maintenance staff and the Walla Walla’s engine crew.

“We conducted a thorough and detailed investigation into what happened and why,” said David Moseley, Washington State Department of Transportation assistant secretary, ferries division, in a statement. “Safety is our number-one priority at WSF. We need to learn from these mistakes and focus on improving complex maintenance practices.”

WSF is taking a number of steps based on investigator recommendations to prevent similar accidents, including increased training and establishment of new checklists and procedures.

According to the report, two separate crews thought the other had taken protective steps to contain the electrical current that surged into the motor, melting vital parts over a 40 minute period.

No one was injured in the incident.

WSF hopes to return the Walla Walla to service in April following extensive testing and sea trials.

Local News

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Pierce County deputies investigating death of 11-year-old

Pierce County Sheriff’s deputies said they were investigating the death of an 11-year-old girl in Midland, WA.
16 hours ago
Gee Ursula One Seattle...
KIRO Newsradio staff

Thousands of volunteers give back to the community for One Seattle Day

Thousands of volunteers gave back to the community on Saturday for One Seattle Day, including KIRO Newsradio's own Gee and Ursula Show.
16 hours ago
(Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images)...
Frank Sumrall

Mayor’s search for permanent Police Chief looms over Seattle amid depleting law enforcement numbers

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell recently consulted with a hiring firm as the decision to choose the next Chief of Police heats up.
3 days ago
Seattle Sun...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Sunny skies, warm temperatures forecast for western Washington this weekend

Sunny skies and warm temperatures are forecast for much of western Washington, with some areas expected to reach temps in the 70s.
3 days ago
Student STEM...
Nicole Jennings

From athletes to mathletes: STEM Signing Day shines light on WA scholars

STEM Signing Day gives stellar science, technology, engineering, and math scholars a chance to shine in the same way as high school athletes.
3 days ago
Prison 900x506...
MyNorthwest Staff

Governor Inslee cancels parole determination for triple murderer

Governor Inslee has cancelled an order that granted parole to Timothy Pauley, who had been incarcerated for three counts of first degree murder in 1981.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Human error blamed for $3 million Washington State ferry motor meltdown