Captain of ruined Fountainroy yacht resigns

The captain of the Cathalmate Ferry, who got off the road near West Seattle on Thursday and got stuck in offshore piling, has resigned.

No injuries or hazardous material spills as a result of the accident.

Ferry spokesman Ian Stirling confirmed the captain’s resignation on Monday, adding that the ferry boat was moving much faster than it was at the time of the trip. They said the captain, whose name has not been released, was tested for drugs and alcohol and the results were negative. It was not clear what was happening on the captain’s deck that led to the accident.

“It’s really a mystery,” Sterling said. “Something went wrong there.”

Cathlamet headed east from Vashon Island toward Fountalroy Dock in west Seattle at approximately 7:55 a.m. Thursday, its approach was normal for most of the voyage, according to Marine Tracker, a website that charts the ships’ path. . But as it approached the dock, the boat veered to the south. It went so far that the shore of the northbound ship collided with the pilings of the southern group, known as the “dolphins”.

The collision broke a corner of the boat, the exterior of the passenger deck known as the pickle. Sterling said several cars were damaged in the collision, including one that was hit by metal.

Initial estimates of the cost of repairing the Cathalamate, a 1980s boat that came online as part of the Issaqua class ferries, are between $5 million and $7 million. Sterling said that number could easily increase as the investigation continues.

Washington State Ferries Assistant Secretary Patty Rubastello, in a message Monday afternoon, informed employees of the resignations, saying the agency would continue to work with federal agencies to prevent future incidents.

“Safety remains our number one priority for both staff and customers, and I am grateful that there has never been a collision fatality in WSF history,” she wrote.

Along with the National Transportation Safety Board, the Coast Guard is leading the federal investigation, while the WSF runs its own internal investigation. A Coast Guard spokesman said the investigation was in its early stages and did not provide any additional details about the cause of the incident.

“I can tell you that they haven’t interviewed my men yet,” said Dan Twohigg, regional representative for the International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots, whose members include a fellow at Cathalamate as well as the captain. , which he had refused. Name or describe Monday.

“It’s a bad accident and no one was hurt,” Tuhig said. “That’s what’s important.”

State Sen. Joe Nguyen, a Democrat whose district includes West Seattle and Vashon Island, said he and his district mate, Rep. Joe Fitzgibbons plans to hold a town hall at the event.

“It’s a lifeline for so many members of our community,” he said. “Ferry fleet safety is important to all of us in general.”

The WSF brought in Kitsap Ferry on Friday to replace the damaged cathalamate.

The state ferry system is the largest in the United States. It has a safe history of over 70 years, with relatively few accidents for the route’s number.

However, the last two years have been challenging. Crew shortages due to retirement, COVID infection and vaccine-related resignations have affected its ability to provide normal service. Several routes operate on reduced schedules, including Sailing between Fauntleroy, Vashon Island and Southworth.

The fleet itself is aging and in need of upgrades. Of the 21 WSF boats, only 17 are available: two are always on hold for repair and maintenance and two others, the Cathalamette and the Tacoma, are currently damaged. But for now, Sterling said, the issue of crew shortages outweighs shipwrecks, meaning the ferry system can’t run perfectly, even if it has boats.

Seattle Times staff reporter Mike Lindblom contributed to this report.

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