Cracks in two ferry hulls force both out of service

Associated Press

SEATTLE — Two state ferries have been taken out of service for repair of cracks found in their hulls above the waterline.

The Evergreen State-class boats, which carry up to 310 vessels on the Vashon-Southworth-Fauntleroy run, were sent to Todd Shipyard in Seattle late Friday for repair.

"This is very unusual," said ferry system spokeswoman Pat Patterson. "I certainly don’t recall any situation like this involving two ferries."

Recently installed steel pilings near the system’s Southworth dock, as well as sea conditions there, were being blamed for damage to the Evergreen State and Klahowya ferries.

At least one of the boats was tentatively expected to be back in service Monday morning. Both are regulars on the run linking Fauntleroy in West Seattle with Vashon Island and Southworth.

Stopgap service was being provided over the weekend to that run and the Bremerton-Seattle run, one of whose vessels was diverted to serve Vashon.

The Evergreen State was built in 1954 and rebuilt in 1988. Ferry-system spokeswoman Susan Harris-Huether said there was a 7-inch crack in the hull of the Evergreen State about 7 feet above the water line. The crack in the Klahowya, built in 1958 and rebuilt in 1995, was about 8 inches and at the same level.

The breach in the Klahowya’s hull was discovered by crew members who noticed fuel leaking from the side of the vessel. An inspection of the Evergreen State revealed a similar crack.

Russ East, the ferry system’s terminal engineer, said the cause appears to be an temporary "dolphin," or group of pilings, placed outside the Southworth ferry slip after a storm two weeks ago pushed over the permanent dolphin.

"This (temporary) one did not have the flexibility it would normally have," he said.

The ferry system has used similarly designed clusters at Fauntleroy and at Keystone for temporary fixes in the past, without causing such damage. The Southworth location, conditions and the particular dolphin design are believed to have combined to create a unique situation.

"I’m hoping this will not be something that proves to be terribly serious," state Transportation Secretary Doug MacDonald said late Friday.

Copyright ©2002 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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