Fake bomb threat shuts down ferry service to Friday Harbor; impacts cruise boats and seaplanes Featured

A bomb threat written on a sticky note found in the women's restroom on Washington State Ferries Elwha shut down all ferry service to Friday Harbor for five hours on Monday, July 1, 2019. The note triggered a MARSEC 3 status. Cruise ships and seaplanes at Friday Harbor marina were kept from leaving until they were checked out by the U.S. Coast Guard. The Coast Guard boats were patrolling back and forth in the harbor.

Washington State's bomb squad arrives at Friday Harbor terminal. Sharon Kivisto photos

The call to dispatch came in at 1:32 informing the Sheriff's Office of the note. The US Coast Guard determined the vessel should be tied up to the dock and all ferry personnel evacuated. The vessel was empty of all passengers and vehicles at the time the staff disembarked. 

Bomb disposal teams were called in. Members included King County Sheriff’s Office, Washington State Patrol and the US Coast Guard, and a K-9 bomb detection team. They flew to Friday Harbor with their equipment and three dogs arriving about 5 p.m. A fourth dog arrived later with the bomb technician. 

A member of the bomb disposal team searches the upper deck with one of the four dogs. Sharon Kivisto photo

U.S. Coast Guard boats patrol the harbor. Sharon Kivisto photo

The bomb disposal team and the dogs searched the entire ferry. After approximately a one-hour search, one of the men walked over to a small group of ferry workers, Coast Guard officers and announced, "All Clear." 

The Elwha crew (right) and Coast Guard officers get the good news that there was no bomb. Sharon Kivisto photo

People who had waited hours on the passenger loading area clapped and started surging forward ready for the gates to open and for their trips to continue. The crowds had remained in surprisingly good humor through the lengthy delay. 

Ferry service resumed on a first-come first-served basis. Only people with reservations would be served for the rest of the day.

One man, who had gotten off work two hours early, had cancelled his reservation as he planned to get on an earlier ferry on standby. Now instead of an early trip home, it looks like he'll be staying overnight in Friday Harbor. 

An investigation by the Washington State Patrol will be conducted into the circumstances in which the note was placed in the bathroom. If you have any information into the incident please call the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office at 360-378-4151.  

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