Tuesday, July 23, 2024
Maritime Propulsion

May 8, 2023

Bad Fuel Caused Washington State Ferry Grounding

WSF ferry Walla Walla ran aground on April 15 after losing propulsion and steering. (Photo: Washington State Ferries)

A fuel contamination issue led to the grounding of a Washington State Ferries (WSF) vessel in April, the operator said in a recent update.

The 440-foot double-ended Jumbo Class ferry Walla Walla was traveling from Bremerton, Wash. to Seattle with 596 passengers and 15 crew members on board when it ran aground in Rich Passage, just off Bainbridge Island, Wash., at approximately 4:30 p.m. on April 15. No injuries, pollution or damage to the vessel was reported.

At the time of the incident, WSF said it believed the grounding was caused by a propulsion and steering loss stemming from a generator failure.

Internal and U.S. Coast Guard investigation teams went on to determine that generator failure was caused by contaminated fuel. The same fuel issue also affected the ferry's backup systems, resulting in a second generator failure within seconds of the first, WSF said.

An investigation into how the fuel was contaminated is ongoing, the operator added.

WSF announced on May 3 that the Walla Walla returned to service and that all fuel on board was tested clean to ensure a similar incident does not occur. New, upgraded generator monitoring gauges have also been installed on both Walla Walla and its sister ship Spokane.