The MV Tacoma, one of two large ferries that run between Seattle and Bainbridge Island, suffered “rudder flop” on Tuesday, January 9, that requires dry docking to repair. Unfortunately, dry dock space large enough to hold the 460-foot vessel is unavailable until February 5.
“Rudder flop,” explains Scott Mullan, Port Engineer, “is just that—it flops uncontrollably. The rudder flops from water pressure or vessel movement, not from wheelhouse control.” Mullan describes the floppy rudder movement as a “big barn door swinging in the wind.”
Washington State Ferries is working to accelerate the return to the fleet of the MV Wenatchee, sister ship of the Tacoma, which is currently at Eagle Harbor Shipyard undergoing annual maintenance. However, besides completing the needed maintenance, the Wenatchee also needs to undergo its annual inspection by the United States Coast Guard prior to returning to the fleet.
The current vessel assignments that place the 88-car MV Evergreen State on the Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth route, the 124-car MV Issaquah on the Bremerton route and the 144-car vessel Hyak on the Bainbridge route will remain on these routes until late next week.