Four crew members will be questioned about the Christmas Eve grounding of a ferry near Friday Harbor, a Washington State Ferries spokeswoman said yesterday. The state ferry Sealth...
Four crew members will be questioned about the Christmas Eve grounding of a ferry near Friday Harbor, a Washington State Ferries spokeswoman said yesterday.
The state ferry Sealth was grounded on Reid Rock last Friday evening, and initial estimates put the damage at $700,000.
The four people deemed “primary crew members” involved in the incident are: Capt. Kirk Mikkelborg, a 29-year employee of the ferry system, Chief Mate George Terek, with 20 years on the job, and Quartermaster Thomas Fowler and seaman Kamela Brower, both with five years on the job.
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Written statements have been taken from the four, and interviews will be conducted shortly. The U.S. Coast Guard and the ferry service are investigating.
At the time of the incident, Terek, who is a licensed captain, was in the wheelhouse giving directions to Fowler, whose job was to steer the vessel.
Brower was acting as lookout, providing “extra eyes for the deck officer, watching for lights, small vessels and listening for unexpected sounds,” Senior Port Capt. Kelly Mitchell said in a statement released yesterday.
Ferries spokeswoman Susan Harris-Huether declined to say where Mikkelborg was at the time of the grounding. She noted, however, that it’s common for a captain to pilot the vessel in one direction and a mate to pilot it on the way back.
The hull of the Sealth has a 96-foot-long dent about two inches deep, which caused steel inside the ship to buckle and roll, according to Gerry Elston, a naval architect with the ferry system.
The Sealth has been replaced with a slower vessel, which means that ferry service will be delayed on the route. Over the weekend, several runs will be canceled and other runs will be 20 to 50 minutes behind schedule. For updated schedule changes, check www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries, call 511 (in state) or 206-464-6400.
Mikkelborg was involved in another incident in 1999, when he captained a ferry that crashed into a dock on Orcas Island. However, an investigation determined that Mikkelborg bore no blame for the incident, which was caused by mechanical problems.