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Contaminated Fuel Eyed in Washington State Ferry Grounding

The Walla Walla ferry aground in Rich Passage, April 15, 2023. Washington State Ferries Photo

Contaminated Fuel Eyed in Washington State Ferry Grounding

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 3055
May 5, 2023

Washington State Ferries has reported that contaminated fuel caused a generator failure on board its Walla Walla ferry, leading to the vessel running aground last month.

The incident occurred on April 15 as the ferry was travelling from Bremerton to Seattle with almost 600 passengers and crew members on board. Fortunately, there were no injuries or pollution resulting from the incident, and the ferry was refloated later that same day.

According to an internal and US Coast Guard investigation teams, the contaminated fuel resulted in a loss of propulsion and steering. Backup systems were also impacted by the issue.

The vessel returned to service this week on its Seattle/Bremerton route.

While the investigation into how the fuel was contaminated is ongoing, to ensure a similar incident does not occur, all fuel currently on board has been tested clean. New, upgraded generator monitoring gauges have also been installed on both Walla Walla and its sister ship Spokane.

Washington State Ferries has expressed gratitude to the crew aboard the day of the grounding for their quick actions and professionalism, as well as their partners at Washington State Patrol, USCG and Kitsap Transit for their assistance.

The Walla Walla ferry was constructed in Seattle in 1973 and rebuilt in 2003, according to the WSF website. It has a maximum capacity of 2,000 passengers and 188 vehicles. It is 440 feet (134 meters) in length with a draft of 18 feet (5.4 meters).

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