Internal Investigation Pins Blame on the Captain for Washington Ferry Collision
A report has been released on the July 2022 collision of the Washington State Ferries' vessel "CATHLAMET" with a piling as it approached its pier. The report, which was the result of an internal investigation by Washington State Ferries (WSF), concludes that the accident was caused by human error. However, the captain of the vessel has refused to cooperate, and there are no further details available.
The incident occurred on July 28th, 2022, as the ferry CATHLAMET was approaching the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal near Seattle from the Vashon Island Ferry Terminal. The collision took place at 8:13 a.m. as the vessel struck the south dolphin while approaching its berth at the end of the 10-minute trip. The weather was clear, with little to no wind and an ebbing tide.
In addition to the $7.7 million worth of structural damage sustained by the ferry, one passenger was lightly injured, and one vehicle was extensively damaged.
According to the report, the CATHLAMET collided with the South Dolphin at FAU dock at a speed of approximately 15 knots. The vessel did not slow down as it approached the Fauntleroy Dock. The captain assumed manual control of the vessel in preparation for landing, and the WSF report concluded that the captain at the helm lost situational awareness while standing at the helm and landing the vessel. However, there is no explanation as to why this happened. The captain in question refused to answer questions during the investigation and subsequently resigned from the company.
Investigations by the US Coast Guard (USGC) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) revealed that all machinery and control systems on board the vessel were working as intended. Compulsory drug and alcohol tests conducted 2.5 hours after the event also came up negative.
To reduce the likelihood of such an event happening again, Washington State Ferries has adopted new practices. Non-mandatory crew training, which had been discontinued, will be reinstated in the summer of 2023. Additionally, a "black box" data recorder will be installed on all Washington State Ferries.