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

If vehicles crash and tumble, rescuers want to be ready

The Puyallup Extrication Team practiced with other fire departments on cars, SUVs and even buses.

Man arrested after stolen car crashes in Everett

The accident occurred in the 100 block of SE Everett Mall Way.

5-vehicle crash in Arlington kills 62-year-old woman

Medics had transported her to the hospital, where she later died.

2 men hospitalized after rollover collision on U.S. 2

Two men were taken to the hospital with minor injuries… Continue reading

Marysville police serve a warrant — across the street from HQ

A man who fled was taken into custody. Police were serving a warrant for alleged drug-related crimes.

Marysville man charged with stabbing wife who sought divorce

Nathan Bradford, 45, found divorce papers while going through the woman’s car.

Man on ferry accuses child of theft, allegedly pulls knife

The man was arrested, no one was hurt, and the ferry was delayed 30 minutes on its way to Mukilteo.

Front Porch

EVENTS Snohomish man’s legacy The life and legacy of William Shelton, the… Continue reading

State is close but still not compliant in school-funding case

Lawmakers must act during the next legislative session to satisfy the state Supreme Court.

Most Read