UPDATE, 9:10 p.m. | There will be no charge for vehicles and walk-on passengers sailing from Seattle to Bremerton on the 10:30 p.m., 11:30 p.m. and 12:50 ferries, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.
UPDATE, 7:30 p.m. | State Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson issued the following statement about the overloaded ferry:
“I apologize to all ferry passengers impacted by the overloading of the Cathlamet late this afternoon.
Due to the safety concerns related to the overloading of the Cathlamet, a thorough review of this incident will take place and everyone in the chain of command at Washington State Ferries responsible for this oversight will be held accountable accordingly.
As Secretary, the safety of the traveling public on our ferries, highways, and railways, is my top priority. I am pleased the crew took corrective action and all passengers made it across Puget Sound. The passengers, who disembarked the Cathlamet for the next sailing, received a voucher.”
ORIGINAL POST | Ferry workers mistakenly allowed an extra 400 passengers to board a Seattle-bound ferry Friday afternoon, forcing the ferry to turn back to Bremerton and causing an hour-long delay.
The crew on the Cathlamet, scheduled to leave Bremerton at 4:20 p.m., thought the capacity was 1,600, so they allowed 1,684 people to board the ferry, Washington State Ferries spokeswoman Marta Coursey said. The capacity is 1,200 passengers.
Shortly after the ferry departed, staff realized their mistake, Coursey said.
“It appears that we overloaded the ferry,” she said.
The ferry turned back and had to offload 400 people, who were issued vouchers.
The late departure will delay the 5:35 p.m. return to Bremerton and may delay other departures. The Cathlamet will make an extra round trip this evening, departing Bremerton at 10:15 p.m. and Seattle at 11:30 p.m.
Both Bremerton-to-Seattle ferries have a capacity of 1,200 passengers, so it’s unclear why workers thought the capacity was 1,600.
This is the latest in a series of problems this summer. On Aug. 3, mechanical problems with a drive motor on the ferry Elwha gave passengers a scare when they were ordered to congregate on the main passenger level and put on life vests. On July 29, Tuesday, the ferry Tacoma lost power near Bainbridge Island and had to be pushed to the Winslow terminal by tugboats.