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Cooling system failure blamed for Elwha's power loss
The state Transportation Department's Ferries Division moved the 90-car ferry Sealth on Wednesday to Anacortes to replace the 144-car Elwha, while repairs are made to the Elwha’s propulsion system.
The Sealth had been on standby at the Ferries Division’s Eagle Harbor Maintenance Facility. The Sealth arrived in Anacortes in time to make the scheduled 6:50 p.m. sailing to Lopez and Orcas Island.
At 8 a.m. Wednesday, the Elwha temporarily lost steering due to a problem with the propulsion control system. The vessel resumed use of the propulsion system on one end and was able to make it to Anacortes under its own power. The Elwha is out of service until later this week while repairs to the propulsion control cooling system are made.
Because the Sealth holds fewer cars than the Elwha, customers should arrive early and expect more overloads. For updated schedule and service information, visit www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/service.
Late Wednesday, Coast Guard investigators discovered the cause of the Elwha's troubles. An apparent cooling system failure is responsible for the vessel becoming disabled while in service. It is expected to take two days for all necessary repairs to be made to the vessel.
The Elwha was drifting in deep water after it became disabled about a half-mile from Blakely Island, with more than 200 people aboard. The Coast Guard cutters Wahoo and Osprey were en route to the scene, along with an MH-65 helicopter crew from Air Station Port Angeles and the tug Lindsay Foss, when the Elwha's power returned. The Lindsay Foss and a smallboat crew from Station Bellingham escorted the Elwha into Anacortes.
Navy and Canadian vessels were also prepared to assist if necessary.