Ferry carrying 596 passengers and 15 crew runs aground near Seattle WA

   April 17, 2023 ,   Accidents

A passenger ferry carrying a large number of people ran aground near Bainbridge Island, located west of Seattle WA, on Saturday, April 15th.

Fortunately, there were no immediate reports of injuries or contamination, and passengers were safely evacuated from the ferry. The ferry Walla Walla (IMO 7233151) ran aground in Rich Passage at ~4:30 pm while en route from Bremerton to Seattle, according to Washington State Ferries, a division of the state Department of Transportation.

Preliminary findings indicate that the vessel experienced a generator failure, but further investigation is ongoing to determine the exact cause of the incident.

The ferry had a total of 596 passengers and 15 crew members on board, as confirmed by ferries spokesperson Diane Rhodes. Both a tug boat and the Coast Guard were present at the scene to assist.

Due to the low tide expected at around 8:09 p.m., the initial plan was to keep passengers on board until midnight when it was believed that the tide would be at the right height to safely tow the ferry. However, the ferries agency later updated that Kitsap Transit, a local public transportation agency, was assisting with the evacuation of passengers onto a second ferry that would transport them to Bremerton. Plans were also being made to address the retrieval of vehicles on board the ferry the following day.

Reports from the state Department of Ecology indicated that no pollution or hull damage had been detected at the time, and their responders were en route to the scene. The Coast Guard had dispatched crews on cutters and a helicopter to assist with the situation. The Seattle-Bremerton route was temporarily out of service until further notice, as stated on the Department of Transportation's website.

The 1973-built Walla Walla underwent a major reconstruction in 2003. This is a 4-engine, jumbo-class ferry with max capacity 2000 passengers and 188 vehicles. The boat has length 440 ft (134 m) and max draft 18 ft (5.5 m).