Ferries ordered to add life rafts

Walla Walla subbing for Puyallup, undergoing repairs
By Brian Soergel | Jun 02, 2017
Courtesy of: WSF A ferry's deployed passenger evacuation slide with a life raft.

Washington State Ferries will add 70 new life rafts over the next 2.5 years at a cost of about $5 million systemwide. It comes after an agreement with the U.S. Coast Guard.

Currently, ferries are allowed to carry fewer life rafts – enough for half of the passengers on trips with full capacity, because other ferries are close enough to help if there is an emergency.

On the Edmonds-Kingston run, this means the Spokane and Puyallup boats.

“For Edmonds-Kingston, this will have essentially zero impact on customers as we never approach max passenger capacity on the route,” Ferries spokesman Ian Sterling said. “It's not a big walk-on route.

“The one exception and advantage is if there's a vessel out of service on the route.The remaining vessel will be able to carry its max passenger load without having to rely on the sister vessel for the Coast Guard to allow full capacity.”

Meanwhile, the Spokane is now at the Vigor shipyard in Seattle for a much needed paint job and other work. While there, the plan is to begin installing the extra rafts.

It’ll be the first retrofitted boat in the fleet when it returns to duty in October, Sterling said.

The jumbo-class Walla Walla is filling in for the Spokane on the Edmonds-Kingston route for the summer.

“It’s a sister vessel to the Spokane, so customers shouldn’t notice any real differences until a shiny, freshly painted Spokane returns in the fall,” Sterling said.




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