From the Kitsap Sun:
“The state ferry Chetzemoka, after only a year in service, has cracked propellers, potentially from improperly cast stainless steel.
“State Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, touring Dakota Creek Industries in Anacortes Friday, noticed the 64-car ferry on a lift with its props off and asked what happened.
“Dakota Creek dry-docked the boat Oct. 17 for scheduled installation of rub rails. An inspection Oct. 19 by Washington State Ferries inspectors found hairline cracks in one propeller, explained Paul Brodeur, director of vessel maintenance, preservation and engineering…”
Read the full story here.
Washington State desperately needs to modernize its aging fleet of ferry boats: nine of the 20 boats in the fleet must be replaced within the next 20 years. The Chetzemoka is the first in a series of three new 64-car ferries to be built. In theory, the Kwa-di Tabil Class boats were to be built from an “off-the-shelf” design, greatly reducing cost and time required to build them. But the Chetzemoka ended up being the most expensive ferry ever built in the US: extensive changes to the specifications by WSF resulted in the boats being essentially first-of-its-kind design; a drafting error by WSF cost the taxpayers $1 million to fix; and issues with excessive engine vibration, under-designed rub rails, and a malfunctioning pump have put the Chetzemoka into drydock several times since its launch.
All of these issues have contributed to the high cost of building and maintaining the Chetzemoka, but more importantly, point out serious flaws in the process of designing and building new ferry boats, and the lack of transparency and accountability in that process. Along with securing a stable funding source for capital projects it seems essential that the process by which new boats are designed, built, and operated must become more efficient and accountable.