Ferry run aground back in service, investigation says crash due to contaminated fuel
May 4, 2023, 9:55 AM | Updated: 10:47 am
(Photo from US Coast Guard)
The ferry that ran aground in mid-April is back in service, Washington State Ferries (WSF) announced this morning after an investigation with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) wrapped up.
The investigation between USCG and WSF concluded that contaminated fuel led to a failure of both the generator and its backup systems, causing the boat to lose power.
WSF said it is unknown how the fuel was contaminated, and all fuel currently on board tested clean while new monitoring gauges have been installed.
Washington State Ferries announced late Sunday that all passengers, crew members, and cars stuck on board the stranded ferry have been removed from the ship, and the ferry has been refloated.
The incident happened Saturday afternoon when the M/V Walla Walla ran aground in Rich Passage en route to Seattle from Bremerton.
No reports of injuries or contamination in ferry accident
Initial indications led WSF to believe the vessel suffered a generator failure, according to Washington State Ferries. This prevented the crew from being able to steer the vessel away from their collision course with the shore.
#Walla Walla ran aground in Rich Passage at approx. 4:30 pm enroute to Seattle from Bremerton. No reports of injuries. Tug boat on the way. Initial indications are the vessel suffered a generator failure; an official investigation will be conducted. Updates to follow.
— Washington State Ferries (@wsferries) April 16, 2023
“I was just like, this is real,” passenger Patty Kreemer told KIRO 7. “This is not a drill.”
Kreemer recounted when the Captain delivered that message to the passengers on board Saturday afternoon during the Walla Walla’s 4:15 p.m. run to Seattle. He announced the vessel had lost power and its ability to steer. Then he urged them to brace for impact.
“And then we just kind of hit at once and not very hard,” Kreemer said. “And then a few seconds later, it kind of hit. But it wasn’t like a big impact.”
All 596 passengers, 15 crew members, and 175 cars were evacuated from the ship and given free food from the galley while they were stranded. No injuries have been reported at this time.
The Coast Guard was able to begin offloading people from the grounded ferry around 8:30 p.m. Saturday using Kitsap Fast Ferry vessels.
The vessel was then successfully re-floated during high tide Sunday just after midnight and brought safely to Bremerton with assistance from several tug boats.
KIRO 7 contributed to this report