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Pierce County Ferry System

Posted on: October 20, 2017

Pierce County ferry vessel cleared to sail after evaluation of damage

The M/V Steilacoom II, a Pierce County ferry, was cleared to sail by the United States Coast Guard Oct. 20 following an evaluation of damage found on the hull.

Ferry crews from HMS Ferries, Inc., which operates the Pierce County ferry system on the county’s behalf, found the damage on Sept. 29 during a routine inspection. A dent of about five feet in length was found under the hull’s rub rail, which absorbs the impact of bumps. The damage is located above the water line.

Two tests were conducted Oct. 12 to determine if the ferry was seaworthy: a magnetic particle inspection that determined there were no cracks in the hull, and a water tightness test that determined water was not able to enter the hull from the outside of the ferry.

The United States Coast Guard monitored both tests, and reviewed a report on the extent of the damage submitted by the structural engineers from HMS Ferries, Inc. and Elliott Bay Design Group, the company that designed the ferry. The cause of the damage is under investigation by Pierce County’s insurance company.

The ferry will be placed back into rotation on Oct. 20. The M/V Christine Anderson, the system’s second ferry, has been handling the ferry schedule since the damage was discovered.

The hull damage on the M/V Steilacoom II will be repaired when the ferry is dry docked in January 2019. During the dry docking, the ferry will also undergo other standard inspections and maintenance and repair work.

A mitigation plan to limit additional damage will be put into place until the ferry is dry docked. For example, when the ferry is not in service, crews will stow the ferry so the damaged end is on the land side in the event the ferry is hit by another vessel. Crews will also be cautious while docking the ferry to reduce the number of times the damaged area bumps the wing walls, which are in place to guide the ferry into the dock. Additionally, crews will conduct more frequent internal and external inspections of the hull.


Lauren Behm, Planning and Public Works interim airport and ferry administrator

(253) 302-9541

Anne Radford, Planning and Public Works public information specialist
(253) 798-2464

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