Journal of the San Juan Islands


Update: Hyak skipper, 2nd mate placed on administrative assignment

September 18, 2013 · Updated 3:57 PM

Heavily damaged after being struck by a ferry, the Norma Rae, a 28-foot sailboat, is towed from the scene of the Sept. 13 collision by a state Department of Fish & Wildlife boat. / Contributed photo/Michael Bried

Washington State Ferries removed the captain and the 2nd mate from duty onboard the Hyak and placed the two on administrative assignment in the wake of the vessel's collision Friday with a sailboat in Upright Channel.

The state ferry system convened a board of inquiry late Friday afternoon to investigate the collision. WSF spokeswoman Marta Coursey said that placement of the two WSF employees on administrative assignment is routine procedure as part of such an investigation.

Coursey said the board will release its "finding of fact" after conducting interviews with the crew of the Hyak and reviewing details of the crash. The U.S. Coast Guard is conducting a separate but parallel investigation as well, she said.

The Hyak, a Super Class ferry with a 144-vehicle capacity, is roughly 382-feet in length and is capable of traveling up to 17 knots. It collided with a 28-foot sailboat, the Norma Rae, Sept. 13 at about 2 p.m., while en route to Orcas Island and shortly after leaving the Lopez Island ferry terminal.

The sailboat's lone occupant, a man in his mid-60s, was transported to San Juan Island's Peace Island Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries shortly after the collision.

The heavily damaged sailboat was towed from the crash scene by a boat provided by state Fish and Wildlife, but it later sank, reportedly in 250 feet of water.

Cousey said the time of release of the inquiry board's findings-of-fact will depend on the length of evaluation of the collision.

— Scott Rasmussen



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