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Divers off Seattle get first look a grounded ferry’s hull


SEATTLE (AP) — Divers west of Seattle on Sunday began inspecting the hull of a ferry that lost power and ran aground near Bainbridge Island.

Nobody was hurt when the Walla Walla ran aground in Rich Passage around 4:30 p.m. Saturday on its way from Bremerton to Seattle.

A generator failure apparently played a role in the incident, affecting 596 passengers, 15 crew and 175 vehicles, according to Washington State Ferries, a division of the state Department of Transportation.

Passengers were kept onboard until two passenger-only vessels from Kitsap Transit began taking them to the slip at Bremerton around 8 p.m.

The last passengers left the Walla Walla around 10 p.m. and a rising tide floated the ferry free around midnight, enabling tugs to tow it to Bremerton.

Passengers collected their vehicles in Bremerton on Sunday morning, ferries spokesperson Diane Rhodes said.

“We ended up towing some off the vessel and others came to claim their cars,” Rhodes said.

Divers began examining the ferry’s hull around midday, Rhodes said.

Passenger Haley Socha told The Seattle Times the ferry’s lights went out about 20 minutes into the voyage and the engines stopped. The lights came back on after a minute, followed by an alarm and announcement that the vessel had no propulsion and passengers should brace for impact.

People helped one another as they donned life vests, Socha said.

“Everybody’s been really nice and good to each other,” Socha told the Times.

One passenger who had an unrelated medical emergency had to be evacuated from the vessel, according to Washington State Ferries.

The Seattle-Bremerton route was out of service until further notice, the Department of Transportation said on its website.

The website lists the Walla Walla as a four-engine, jumbo class ferry with a capacity of 2,000 passengers and 188 vehicles. It is 440 feet (134 meters) long with a draft of 18 feet (5.4 meters).

The Walla Walla was built in 1973 in Seattle and rebuilt in 2003, according to the site.

Article Topic Follows: AP - Oregon-Northwest

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