Ferry system plans to hire dozens of workers

Washington State Ferries is looking to hire dozens of deckhands after worker shortages caused scrubbed sailings to spike at the end of the summer season.

The agency wants to retain 31 on-call deckhands who had been brought on for the summer, plus hire another 15 workers by the end of this year. That will get the agency to full staffing, officials said.

Money to pay for hiring and training the additional workers is in the 2013-15 transportation budget, according to agency spokeswoman Marta Coursey.

The labor moves are spurred by the rash of canceled runs Sept. 7 and 8 because of too few crew members. The U.S. Coast Guard requires minimum staffing levels on each class of vessel for safety and ferry officials said vacations, illness and other factors combined to deplete the ranks more than normal that weekend.

“Missed sailings are not acceptable period,” Department of Transportation spokesman Lars Erickson said this week.

That weekend wasn’t the first time boats didn’t sail because of staffing shortages.

There have been 82 canceled runs this year and roughly 50 sailings in the summer and early fall 2012, according to figures compiled by the state agency. Some of those scrubbed runs occurred on the Mukilteo-Clinton and Coupeville-Port Townsend routes.

Last year the U.S. Coast Guard instructed Washington State Ferries to increase the number of crew members on its largest vessels to improve safety. The agency spent $11 million to hire and train enough workers to comply.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s best images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

Trail work by juvenile offenders builds resumes, confidence

Kayak Point trails were built out this year by groups from Denney Juvenile Justice Center.

Volunteers clean up homeless camp infested with garbage

The organization’s founder used to live and do drugs in the same woods.

Families begin relocating from public housing complex

Baker Heights is in need of repairs deemed to costly to make, and will be demolished and replaced.

Everett mayoral campaign is one of the priciest ever

Many campaign donors are giving to both Cassie Franklin and Judy Tuohy.

Arrests made in robbery-turned fatal Everett shooting

A man, 24, and woman, 18, were found at a hotel in Seattle.

3 fire departments seek levies to support emergency services

District 25 in Oso is hoping to pass its first fire levy in 22 years.

Flood watches end for Snohomish County

No rain is forecast for the rest of the week.

Front Porch

JUST FOR YOUTH Build with balloons Youth in fourth grade and up… Continue reading

Most Read