August 4, 2010
Washington State postpones first sailing of new ferry
Washington State says the planned August 29 inaugural sailing of its new ferry Chetzemoka is being postponed as additional sea trials are conducted this week to investigate excessive vibration. The Washington State Department of Transportation Ferries Division said a new date for the first sailing between Port Townsend and Keystone has not been set.
"We're looking forward to getting the boat in service and the celebration event just as much as the communities served on this route, and we recognize this delay may be disappointing," Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond said today. "But we must be certain we have a safe and fully operational vessel."
Sea trials set for tomorrow (Thursday) will involve a series of operating parameters that will determine if the 64-vehicle ferry can operate properly on the route between Port Townsend and Whidbey Island before a cause and solution are found for the vibrations. Instrumentation will collect data on maneuvering characteristics and corresponding stopping distances.
David Moseley, assistant secretary of Washington State Ferries, said the goal is to determine if operational limitations will allow the vessel to be put into service sooner while longer-term work continues on the vibration issues. If so, software programming modifications would need to be made to establish operating limitations, such as maximum engine settings before excessive vibrations occur.
Experts from the Ferries Division, Todd Pacific Shipyards, equipment suppliers, design consultants and Department of Transportation engineers continue to analyze data collected last week in sea trials. The data relate to vibration in the drive train, which includes the main diesel engine, couplings, shafting, reduction gears and propellers.
"We have qualified experts troubleshooting possible causes," Secretary Hammond said. "I'm confident we will isolate the problem soon and find a remedy as quickly as possible."
Hammond said the new sea trials and necessary crew training make the August 29 inaugural sailing impossible.
A new date for the inaugural sailing will be set as soon as possible.