The Cathlamet made headlines when it crashed into pilings at Fauntleroy terminal on July 28, 2022. WSDOT launched an internal investigation to determine the cause of the collision. (Washington State Department of Transportation)

The Cathlamet made headlines when it crashed into pilings at Fauntleroy terminal on July 28, 2022. WSDOT launched an internal investigation to determine the cause of the collision. (Washington State Department of Transportation)

Cathlamet ferry to depart from Edmonds after repairs from July crash

The ferry will serve Edmonds-Kingston route for a week, equipped with a new black box that will become the fleet’s standard.

EDMONDS — Edmonds-Kingston riders will get to board a newly repaired ferry equipped with the first “black box” data recorder on a domestic vessel.

The recorders will now become standard equipment on state ferries, with installation occurring fleet-wide in coming months.

The Cathlamet, which caused about $7.7 million in damage when it crashed into offshore pilings in West Seattle last July, will return to duty this weekend for a stint on the Edmonds-Kingston route.

The vessel is slated to replace a regular boat on the route needing maintenance, said Dana Warr, a spokesperson for Washington State Ferries.

“It will be a second boat, so there will be two-boat service,” Warr said. “It is going to be there for a week.”

The Cathlamet, built in 1981 with a 124-car capacity, was scheduled for sea trials on open water on Thursday and Friday.

A report released Thursday from an internal investigation by the state ferry system found human error and a failure to follow protocol led to the July collision on the Fauntleroy-Vashon Island route. An experienced captain was at the controls of the Cathlamet as the vessel approached the Fauntleroy terminal and veered off course, slamming into the pilings.

The report concluded the captain “lost situational awareness while standing at the helm landing the vessel.”

The captain resigned without an explanation as to what happened. Drug and alcohol tests were negative.

“A contributing factor was existing landing procedures were not followed by the captain ensuring a witness is present on the bridge and that the witness is engaged and aware of their duties. The quartermaster was present in the wheelhouse but was engaged with reading work related materials when the incident occurred,” the report said.

“Black box” data recorders were installed on the Cathlamet during the repairs. The Chelan, which sailed to Canada before that route was suspended, had been required to have a “black box” due to international standards.

Also, the report said the state ferry system will “consider the implementation of psychometric wellness checks with WSF captains, like current cruise ship practices.”

Separate U.S. Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board investigations into the incident are ongoing.

Two-boat service was officially restored earlier this month to the Edmonds-Kingston route. The Cathlamet is expected to go back to the West Seattle waters eventually, but with a different captain.

Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443;; Twitter: @reporterbrown.

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