WSF: Bacteria, fungus in fuel filters led to ferry grounding

(SEATTLE) — Bacterial and fungal growth in its diesel storage tanks led the ferry Walla Walla to run aground on Bainbridge Island in April, according to a Washington State Ferries (WSF) report.

The contamination was reportedly caused by air and water in the fuel system that overwhelmed the fuel filters, leading to a loss of power.

“We’ve made several changes to ensure it doesn’t happen again,” WSF spokesman Ian Sterling told KOMO News.

The ferry Walla Walla ran aground on Bainbridge Island while en route from Bremerton, Wash., to Seattle on April 15. U.S. Coast Guard photo

The changes reportedly include using more biocide to curb bacterial and fungal growth. WSF has also cleaned the fuel system and sealed off sources of air which contribute to growth, and changed its training and procedures for monitoring the fuel system.

Sterling said that following those updates, the U.S. Coast Guard cleared the boat for passenger service, though Walla Walla is out of service while a propeller is repaired.

“The contaminated fuel was reported last spring and it doesn’t require any further action for any other boats in the fleet,” Sterling said.

Click here to read the complete WSF report.

By Professional Mariner Staff