UPDATE: State ferry Cathlamet, headed for Fauntleroy, diverts after engine room fills with smoke

2:36 PM: Seattle Fire is sending a big “offshore marine fire” response to the Fauntleroy ferry terminal. Dispatch says an engine-room fire is reported on board the state ferry M/V Cathlamet, about a mile out. Part of the response is being sent to the Don Armeni vicinity (often in case of sea-to-land patient transfers). Updates to come.

2:45 PM: We’re headed down to the ferry dock first to see what can be seen from there. WSF VesselWatch shows the Cathlamet’s most recent departure as Vashon to Fauntleroy, but also shows this ferry currently headed westbound. (A different ferry, M/V Kittitas, is currently at the dock.

(Added: WSB photo of Cathlamet, seen from Fauntleroy dock)

2:47 PM: Update from dispatch: This may just be a “smoking clutch” that filled the engine room with smoke. They’re trying to get the Cathlamet to Vashon.

(Added: WSB photo)

The SFD response is continuing to stand by just in case.

2:51 PM: Vishal tweeted that photo, reporting, “My girlfriend is on the boat. Looks like they’re getting escorted back to Vashon.” We also just got a call from someone on the ferry, who says they were almost to Fauntleroy when this all happened, but will be taken off the boat at Vashon and put on another ferry to head here. SFD, meantime, is sending a fireboat that way in case help is needed. The Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth run usually has three ferries on Saturdays so obviously it’s down to two for now.

3:03 PM: Thanks to Russ for that pic of a USCG vessel also escorting Cathlamet. Our archives, meantime, remind us that Cathlamet, 40 years old, was out of service for part of a day two weeks ago because of what was described as a propulsion issue.

3:10 PM: SFD Rescue Boat 5 just radioed in, from Vashon, that WSF told them no fire or medical help is needed. So they’re heading back downtown and the rest of the responders who were standing by will be dismissed (including fireboat Leschi, below, which was also headed that way with firefighters on board).

(At Seacrest – photo by Carolyn Newman)

3:43 PM: Our caller from aboard Cathlamet reports they docked at Vashon and have transferred to another ferry which is now Fauntleroy-bound (looks like M/V Sealth, per tracker).

(Photo from Emily via comments – fire crew on Cathlamet car deck)

WSF says Cathlamet is “out of service until further notice” and describes the problem as “a malfunction in the reduction gear,” adding: “For the remainder of the service day, all #2 sailings are cancelled.”

6:30 PM: WSF now says, “The Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth route is operating on a 2-boat schedule due to clutch repairs needed on M/V Cathlamet. M/V Kittitas will run in the #1 position and M/V Sealth will run as the #2.”

9 Replies to "UPDATE: State ferry Cathlamet, headed for Fauntleroy, diverts after engine room fills with smoke"

  • Russ July 24, 2021 (2:45 pm)

    Somebody onboard tells me they’re heading back to Vashon to switch boats. They report a strong burnt rubber smell.

  • Russ July 24, 2021 (2:52 pm)

    Coast Guard escort. My source reports that they say it’s “the clutch of either the front or the rear engine.” At least 4 escorts now.

  • Laura Kincade July 24, 2021 (2:57 pm)

    Part of Troop 284 is on the boat. We are making the best of it!

  • Russ July 24, 2021 (3:02 pm)

    She says there are 3 coast guard and 3 police boats.

  • Emily Guadamuz July 24, 2021 (3:26 pm)

    We are just docking beside the cathlamet. 3:25pm. We see fire crew on boat. Boat still full of cars. Alarms sounded. 

  • Pdx77 July 24, 2021 (3:34 pm)

    This is not good :(. Hopefully the boat will not be taken out of service for that long.   WSF can not afford to lose another boat right now 

  • Tim July 24, 2021 (4:29 pm)

    The ferry ordeal is over for the passengers of the wonky Cathamet. The scouts of troop 284 are home safe. Just one more story to tell of summer camp!

Sorry, comment time is over.