Kitsap ferry service takes another reduction

Washington State Ferries announced Sept. 18 that the M/V Walla Walla ferry is once again out of service, this time for up to four weeks to replace a damaged propeller.

WSF representative Justin Fujioka said the ferry was taken out of service early Sept. 15 after he said “a significant shudder was felt on board while the vessel was approaching Bremerton.”

Divers confirmed one of the boat’s propellers had been damaged. Fujioka said the cause is under investigation.

The long delay in the ship’s return is because, WSF says in a statement on X, formerly Twitter, “We have a spare propeller, but it takes time to replace as we must place the vessel into dry dock in order to do that.”

While this is not the only time the Walla Walla has been sidelined this year, including its grounding near Bainbridge Island April 15, it may be the most consequential delay from service yet. The damage comes just weeks after the 202-car Wenatchee ferry that served the Seattle-BI route was pulled for conversion to hybrid-electric.

The 144-car Chimacum was brought in to take its place, but as it has in months past, it was moved to the Seattle-Bremerton route to maintain the still one-boat reduced service.

As for BI, Fujioka said, “We had Salish on standby as a relief boat and brought it down from Port Townsend Saturday evening to serve as the second boat on the Seattle/Bainbridge route.”

Such a substitution is a big drop in the route’s two-boat service, with maximum capacity of the Salish 64 vehicles.

Despite limited resources while WSF pursues its clean energy agenda amid a crumbling ferry service, Fujioka said Bremerton is not at risk of losing service anytime soon.