SEATTLE — The Tacoma, one of Washington State Ferries largest vessels, was taken out of the water Monday to be fixed for repairs.
“Apparently, it struck something under the surface. So, we’re removing the propeller to make some repairs and it actually sheared off the dunce cap as well, which is a protective cap that covers the end of the shaft,” said Vigor project manager Randy Wyllys.
The boat was dry-docked at Vigor Shipyard on Harbor Island, the only spot in Washington large enough to carry the vessel.
Washington State Ferries spokesperson Ian Sterling said a boat out of water is something the organization tries to avoid.
“The rush is on. The idea is to get this back on the water for the big holiday weekend where we expect a half-a-million people over a four-or-five-day period,” said Sterling.
This is the first time The Tacoma was taken out of service since 2015. Crews hope to have it back in the water by Friday before the Labor Day Weekend.
“This does happen from time to time. It’s the hazards of being in a marine environment,” said Sterling, “There are only so many boats to go around. We don’t have a real deep bench and the only back up we have right now holds 90 cars, so it’s not a good replacement for something that holds 200-plus cars like the Tacoma.”
Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Authority announced it’s giving Washington State Ferries nearly $6 million in grant funding. FTA said the money will be used to construct a pedestrian connection at Colman Dock.
“Colman Dock is the busiest ferry terminal in the state, arguably on the West Coast,” said Sterling, “We’re rebuilding it, while we’re using it.”
Sterling said they do get federal grants to maintain Washington ferries, but a fare hike planned for October will help preserve and build new boats.