FOLLOWUP: Many questions remain in Fauntleroy ferry crash

(WSB photo, Thursday afternoon)

In the wake of Thursday morning’s ferry crash (WSB all-day coverage here), the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth run is back to two boats, but the damaged M/V Cathlamet remains out of service, likely for months. We asked WSF some followup questions Friday afternoon. Little new information was made available, but here’s what we have learned.

The U.S. Coast Guard continues leading the investigation into whether the ferry hit an offshore structure because of mechanical problems or human error, but there’s “no new news” on that, said WSF spokesperson Dana Warr. They weren’t able to tell us whether any of the crew on duty at the time have been cleared to return to work – but the captain who was at the helm of Cathlamet was definitely not back to work yet because, Warr said, the incident happened on “his ‘Friday’.” Still no additional information available regarding the captain’s background or years of service.

Cathlamet remains at WSF’s Eagle Harbor maintenance facility on Bainbridge Island “for further inspections and we’re working to make a claim with our insurance company to begin repair in the future. It looks like the work can be done dockside but that could change based on more inspections.” WSF’s supply of backup boats was already tight with M/V Kitsap being summoned to replace Cathlamet, but another boat will be completing repairs and resuming service soon – the M/V Tacoma, according to what WSF’s John Vezina told the West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s Thursday night meeting.

As for the damaged dolphin – the offshore structure the Cathlamet hit – Warr said, “Evaluations continue but could be a week or more before removal of damaged pilings begin.” At the WSTC meeting, Vezina explained that the dolphins are helpful for guiding the ferry into the dock and keeping it there even in rough weather, but not essential, and there’s even new magnetic technology in development that could change the need for them.

Finally, we wondered about the car that was caught in the crumpled section of the ferry. “It is likely the car won’t be able to be removed until it is taken to a shipyard.”

17 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Many questions remain in Fauntleroy ferry crash"

  • Beto July 30, 2022 (2:00 pm)

    Someone in WSF is trying to cover up. Can’t they say it was a mechanical problem, or a human error or both? Not coming out with what really happened makes the situation very suspicious. 

    • Jeffrey July 30, 2022 (4:53 pm)

      Actually sounds like standard protocol to me. Or, sorry, are you an investigator?

    • Whackadoodles Everywhere July 30, 2022 (5:13 pm)

      Calm down Beto.  The investigation is not even 48 hours old.  Or maybe the person who crashed the ferry is in the room with you right now?

    • Auntie July 30, 2022 (5:16 pm)

      Perhaps Putin had a hand in this Communist plot to avoid admitting the problem. Sheesh – they’ll let us know when they’re sure of the cause.

    • TQ July 31, 2022 (3:25 pm)

      WSF won’t be the ones who decide who/whast was to blame. That would be the coast guards job.

  • tim July 30, 2022 (5:21 pm)

    It’s under investigation. Give a couple years to get all of the wording correct and reviewed by the appropriate attorneys. I’m just glad a dophin or people weren’t hurt.

  • Rumbles July 30, 2022 (6:32 pm)

    These types of investigations take time.  It’s important for the investigators to be correct when they provide information or any kind of report.  

  • StupidInSeattle July 30, 2022 (6:45 pm)

    Agree with Rumbles on need for complete and fair investigation before conclusions are publicly announced.  People’s careers could be ended by this.  Still, highly strange to see a ferry accident like this in calm sea, clear visibility, and at a high approach speed.  

    • The King July 30, 2022 (10:22 pm)

      The ferries have been crashing into docks for decades. Never had a fatality and they used to fly across the water. Until waterfront homeowners sued for the wake causing erosion. They went fast enough for a guy to waterski behind the Seattle-Bremerton route in the mid 70’s. Was awesome 

      • hj July 31, 2022 (8:59 pm)

        I wasn’t around in the ’70s, so how did the ferries slow down on approach if they went so fast? Like for example on the Talequah-Port Defiance route, the ferries seem to be going as fast as they possibly can, or at least that’s how it feels from the number of jarring landings I’ve experienced on that route. 

        • The King August 1, 2022 (8:05 am)

          I’m a little late here but from what I’ve read and been told the ferries had what was called a Z drive system for the propeller. It would turn the prop on a shaft via electric controls, which had their issues due to RF signals from other electronics on the boat interfering with the Z drive, eventually replaced with pneumatic controls. Top speed I don’t know, but they were around 10 mins faster each way 

  • Rick July 31, 2022 (7:33 am)

    When was the last time you had to take your car to the shipyard to be repaired?

  • Rick July 31, 2022 (7:35 am)

    Has anybody coined the phrase “Crashramit” yet?

  • TQ July 31, 2022 (3:27 pm)

    I think this will clearly be because of mechanical failure. Operator error couldn’t even result in damage like this.

    • flimflam August 1, 2022 (8:23 pm)

      Well, the captain resigned so….I’d put my money on “human error”.

  • Suds August 1, 2022 (3:14 am)

    we’re working to make a claim with our insurance company to begin repair”Do they just give Geico a call, or…?:-)

  • flimflam August 1, 2022 (5:44 pm)

    Well, the ferry captain resigned – I’d say that points to “human error” as opposed to mechanical failure. I have a feeling the truth of what happened will never be known.

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