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Ferry glitch on MV Tacoma still a mystery

Officials with the Washington State Ferries still don’t know what may have caused the MV Tacoma to become suddenly dead in the water on the afternoon of Tuesday, July 29.

A way to fix the vessel is still a bit of a question mark, as well.

“We don’t yet have a repair plan,” said WSF spokeswoman Marta Coursey Wednesday.

She added that more information is expected to be made available by Friday afternoon, or possibly early next week.

Apparent mechanical problems aboard the ferry — a crew member said the ship lost propulsion power as it approached Eagle Harbor — left the vessel dead in the water off Bainbridge during the 12:20 p.m. sailing from Seattle early last week.

Having dropped anchor — an extreme rarity for a state ferry on a sailing in Puget Sound — the vessel was finally brought in at approximately 3 p.m. after the ferry MV Sealth was diverted from the Bremerton route to pull the Tacoma away from the Bainbridge shore, and two tugboats then guided the disabled vessel to the terminal.

Onboard the stranded vessel, the general mood of the approximately 405 passengers was agreeable and unconcerned. Most of them were more interested than upset, with many crowding the decks with cameras and cell phones to document the towing efforts.

Alcohol and concession sales continued, although on a cash-only basis as the credit card reader failed during the initial power outage.

Capt. George Capacci, Interim Assistant Secretary of Transportation, said in a telephone press conference last week that the unfortunate turn of events that completely shut down the system’s busiest route was one that had never been seen before.

“This is an unprecedented situation we find ourselves in,” Capacci said.

In his weekly email update Aug. 1, Cappaci said a switchboard on the Tacoma was under scrutiny.

“While we’re still in the early phases of investigation, we are looking at the switchboard that controls the ship’s propulsion,” Capacci noted.

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