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Corrosion Sidelines Seattle Ferry

Monday, January 23, 2017

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A Washington State Ferries vessel was pulled from the busy Seattle-Bremerton route after a routine inspection turned up internal structural corrosion Thursday (Jan. 19).

A patch of rust about three inches wide was found on the ferry Kaleetan, in a steel bulkhead that protects the engine room from water intrusion, according to the Seattle Times. WSF, an agency that’s part of the Washington State Department of Transportation, replaced the boat with the smaller Tillikum while the issue is addressed.

The Kaleetan

The Kaleetan, built in 1967 and rebuilt in 2005, can reportedly carry 144 vehicles and 1,868 passengers. It operates between Seattle and Bremerton, a route that carried nearly 2.1 million passengers in 2016, according to WSDOT. That makes it the agency’s second-busiest route in terms of passengers.

100Faces, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A patch of rust about three inches wide was found on the ferry Kaleetan, in a steel bulkhead that protects the engine room from water intrusion.

The smaller Tillikum carries 87 vehicles and 1,061 passengers, and is about 70 feet shorter in length than the Kaleetan. It travels at a speed of 13 knots, considerably slower than the Kaleetan’s 17 knots. It was built in 1959 and rebuilt in 1994.

In an alert issued Friday morning (Jan. 20), WSDOT advised commuters to “plan accordingly for this temporary reduction in capacity.”

Inspections and Maintenance

The Times reported that the corrosion was found on the Kaleetan as part of a quarterly inspection. A WFS spokesperson told the newspaper that the vessel was pulled from service out of “an abundance of caution.”

According to the Kitsap Sun, WSF officials were joined by Coast Guard representatives in investigating the corrosion to determine its extent and how to proceed.

Lumpytrout, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Washington State Ferries replaced the vessel with the smaller, slower Tillikum until further notice.

According to WSF’s website, vessels are scheduled years in advance for regular maintenance. A document from July 2016 indicates that the Kaleetan was to be drydocked in October and November 2016 before returning to service.

WSDOT officials did not immediately respond Friday (Jan. 20) to a PaintSquare News request for additional information on the investigation and the regular maintenance the boat undergoes.

Ferry Ridership Up

Last year, ferry ridership on the WSF system reached its highest rate since 2004, with 24.2 million people using the fleet’s 10 routes. The Seattle-Bremerton route includes 30 trips—15 each way—every weekday.

WSF plans to add a new “Olympic class” vessel, the Chimacum, to replace a smaller boat on the Bremerton route this spring, but the boat to be replaced is not the Kaleetan.

The Times notes that Kitsap Transit, an agency serving Kitsap County, where Bremerton is located, plans to start a competitive Seattle-Bremerton “Fast Ferry” in July 2017.


Tagged categories: Corrosion; Marine; North America; Public Transit; Quality Control; Ships and vessels; Transportation

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