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

Everett district relents on eminent domain moving expenses

Homeowners near Bothell still must be out by April to make way for a planned new high school.

Their grown children died, but state law won’t let them sue

Families are seeking a change in the state’s limiting wrongful-death law.

Officials rule train-pedestrian death an accident

The 37-year-old man was trying to move off the tracks when the train hit him, police say.

Ex-Monroe cop re-arrested after losing sex crime case appeal

He was sentenced to 14 months in prison but was free while trying to get his conviction overturned.

Marysville hit-and-run leaves man with broken bones

The state patrol has asked for help solving an increasing number of hit-and-run cases in the state.

Everett man killed at bar had criminal history, gang ties

A bar employee reportedly shot Matalepuna Malu, 29, whose street name was “June Bug.”

There’s plenty to cheer in overdue capital budget

In Snohomish County, there’s money for a number of projects.

Parking a constant problem at Wallace Falls State Park

There’s a study under way on how to tackle that issue and others.

Front Porch

EVENTS Autoharpist in Everett Folksinger, storyteller and autoharp virtuoso Adam Miller returns… Continue reading

Most Read