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Walla Walla Ferry Grounding

A passenger ferry Walla Walla is stuck aground near Bainbridge Island, west of Seattle, Washington, U.S., April 15, 2023 in this picture obtained from social media. S. Wilmot/via REUTERS

Generator Failure Suspected In M/V Walla Walla Ferry Grounding: Crew And Passengers Safe

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April 16, 2023

Late Sunday morning, Washington State Ferries (WSF) reported that all 175 cars trapped aboard the grounded M/V Walla Walla had been successfully removed after the vessel was towed back to Bremerton. This development comes as the investigation intensifies to uncover the cause of the vessel’s grounding on Brainbridge Island on Saturday afternoon, during its journey from Bremerton to Seattle.

WSF’s preliminary findings suggest a generator failure may have led to the M/V Walla Walla losing all power, rendering the crew unable to steer the vessel away from land. The United States Coast Guard confirmed there were 596 passengers and 15 crew members aboard at the time of the incident.

Ian Sterling, WSF Director of Communications, stated that divers will now examine the M/V Walla Walla’s propeller for any damage sustained when the ferry unexpectedly hit a sandbar. As a result, the vessel is anticipated to be out of service for several days.

On Sunday, April 16, the 124-vehicle M/V Issaquah replaced the M/V Walla Walla on the Seattle/Bremerton route. Due to the Issaquah’s smaller vehicle capacity, WSF warned of potential extended wait times and encouraged passengers to seek alternate routes.

All passengers were safely evacuated from the ferry with Washington State Ferries announcing that the last of the passengers disembarked by 10 pm.

No injuries were reported, and WSF indicated that initial signs point to a generator failure, with a formal investigation pending. Passengers were transferred to Kitsap Transit vessels, which took them to Bremerton. Travelers with cars on the grounded ferry were directed to retrieve them at the Bremerton terminal on Sunday.

WSF acknowledged the inconvenience, stating, “We know it’s not ideal, but thanks for helping us make the best of a bad situation.” The agency is currently working on refunding all affected customers for their uncompleted trips. The Washington State Department of Ecology found no pollution or hull damage resulting from the grounding.

A passenger on the M/V Walla Walla recalled hearing sirens and witnessing flickering lights as the ship lost power, as reported by KOMO. The voyage from Bremerton to Seattle usually takes around an hour, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation’s website.

Following the grounding of the M/V Walla Walla, Washington State Ferries (WSF) and the United States Coast Guard are working closely together to determine the root cause of the generator failure and to prevent future incidents. Passengers and crew members are being interviewed, and the maintenance records and standard operating procedures of the vessel are under review.

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