Washington State Ferries 64-car boat, the Chetzemoka, is in need of repair after an accident at Vigor Industrial.
Vigor Industrial, the company that built the Chetzemoka, takes responsibility for the accident that damaged the boat while in dry-dock at their Seattle facility.
“Vigor takes full responsibility for this and the repairs will take place at no cost to the state whatsoever,” said Brian Mannion, spokesperson for Vigor Industrial.
Mannion said the accident is under investigation and did not have any details to release.
Sources tell KING 5 the damage occurred when the company was attempting to lift the boat out of the water into the dry-dock position. Best marine practice of having a diver underwater was not in place during the maneuver. A diver typically makes sure that wooden blocks meant to keep the ship from slipping remain in the correct pattern. While raising the boat, the hull shifted off the blocks, which damaged a 50-square-foot patch of the underside of the hull and caused damage to the keel cooler. The keel cooler is attached to the outside of the hull. Its function is to keep equipment such as engines from overheating.
The Chetzemoka has a checkered history. It went into service in November of 2010, three months late and $15 million over what Vigor had estimated the cost of construction to be. Some of the additional expense was due to State Ferries' design flaws and changes. The boat is one of the smallest ferries in the state’s fleet, yet pound for pound it's the most expensive ferry ever built anywhere at $80.1 million.
Ferry engineers who work on board the vessels have been vocal about their disapproval of the Chetzemoka’s design and operation. They've complained the boat has a list, uses too much fuel, and has a vibration problem.
Nine months after going into service the keel cooler sprung a leak due to vibration forces. That took the boat out of service for two days.
Three months later there was more trouble. Both propellers had to be repaired because sub-par steel used in the manufacturing process cracked.
One of the reasons the Chetzemoka is in dry dock currently is to replace the propellers altogether. Vigor now has the extra work and expense of fixing the damaged hull and keel cooler and possible interior damage as well. Mannion told KING the unscheduled repairs will not take the Chetzemoka out of service for longer than planned.
“Vigor has assured us that this is not a setback in the repair schedule. We have a successful track record and partnership on vessel construction as well as repair work done at Vigor, and we are confident they will do a good job fixing the problem,” said Marta Coursey, Director of Communications, Washington State Ferries.