August 1, 2007
Stern tube leak sidelines 80-year old WSF ferry
Washington State Ferries (WSF) said yesterday that the Port Townsend-Keystone route will continue to operate on a two-boat regular schedule.
The announcement followed the discovery on Sunday, July 29, of a slow leak in the stern tube of the 80 year old Steel Electric class ferry Illahee. The Illahee was removed from service and taken to Todd Shipyard in Seattle for repairs.
On Monday, July 30, another of WSF's four Steel Electric class ferries, the Nisqually, was brought to Port Townsend to replace it and will remain in service on this route, along with the Steel Electric class Klickitat, for approximately two weeks while the Illahee is in the shipyard for repair and the fourth Steel Electric, the Quinault, is in for U.S. Coast Guard inspection and maintenance.
"WSF's number one priority is to provide safe service," said WSF Executive Director Mike Anderson. "We are committed to working with the U.S. Coast Guard to make sure that the Steel Electric class vessels are thoroughly inspected and maintained."
Back on July 11,WSF reported that it was performing additional hull inspections on the 80-year-old Steel Electric Class vessels. At that time, the 59-car Illahee was temporarily removed from service for the additional inspection.
The additional hull inspections were requested by the U.S. Coast Guard following recent, unplanned maintenance of the Steel Electric Class vessels.
According to one local press report, the stern tube leak developed on Ilahee's first voyage following its drydocking. It is believed that a crack developed around the stern tube as a result of stress induced by the drydocking, says the report.
The four Steel Electric Class vessels are double ended, diesel electric ferries six of which were originally built for San Francisco and delivered in 1927. With the opening of the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge, the six were sold to Puget Sound Navigation, also known as the "Black Ball Line." They were acquired by what was then the Washington Toll Bridge Authority in the fifties. In the sixties, two of them were sold. The four remaining ferries were rebuilt in the 1980's