BAINBRIDGE ISLAND – During routine annual maintenance at the Washington State Ferries Eagle Harbor Maintenance Facility, crews unintentionally breached the hull of the M/V Walla Walla Saturday, March 15.
Crews and divers stopped the leak immediately, and WSF is developing a full repair plan this week. Annual vessel maintenance of the 188-car Walla Walla included cleaning out the bilges with soap and pressurized water. Crews drilled holes into the bilge deck to drain dirty water and paint chips resulting from the cleaning. Crews successfully drilled one, 1.75 inch drain hole; however, the second drain hole unintentionally went through the hull, causing sea water to leak into the vessel.
Crews used a temporary clamp to plug the leak from inside the vessel. Divers repaired the external side of the vessel with a durable pressurized patch.
Plans to return the Walla Walla to service this week are postponed until vessel engineers can make permanent repairs. WSF initiated an investigation into the incident in accordance with protocols in its Safety Management System.