‘Bad vibrations’ on new Washington ferry

Washington State Ferries reported on July 30 that sea trials on its new ferry, the Chetzemoka, revealed “excess vibration in the engine driveline.” Engineers from WSF and Todd Pacific Shipyard, the primary contractor, have been scrambling to find out the cause and come up with a cure.

The Chetzemoka, or Chetzy, as some people are now calling it, is the first new ferry for WSF since 1999. It will permanently replace one of the old Steel Electrics that used to serve the Port Townsend-Keystone (Whidbey Island) route. Those boats were pulled from service due to hull corrosion in late 2007. The state has been leasing a 50-car ferry from Pierce County (Washington) in the interim.

As we all know, vibrations happen. This incident brings to mind the severe hull girder vibrations that plagued the Response, a Voith Schneider Propulsion tug built at MARCO in Seattle in 2002 for Crowley Maritime. In that case, the entire hull shuddered in concert with propeller vibrations. The fix involved adding more steel to the hull to alter its vibration frequency characteristics.

I have no doubt that the Chetzy’s vibrations will be tamed, but let’s hope it doesn’t take too long. The ferry is scheduled to begin service at the end of August and all sorts of festivities are planned for the inauguration of the $65-million boat.

Meanwhile, Todd and its subcontractors, including Nichols Brothers Boat Builders, are busy working on the second of what’s now a three-boat order for the 64-car ferry, which was designed by Elliott Bay Design Group in Seattle. It’s a modification of the Island Home, an EBDG design built by VT Halter for The Steamship Authority in Massachusetts.

About the author

Bruce Buls

With a degree in English literature from the University of Washington (Go Dawgs!), journalism experience at the once-upon-a-time Seattle P-I, and at-sea experience as a commercial fisherman in Washington and Alaska, Bruce Buls has forged a career in commercial marine trade journalism, including stints at Alaska Fishermen’s Journal and National Fisherman, WorkBoat’s sister publications. Bruce spent 16 years as WorkBoat's technical editor before retiring in May 2015. He lives on Puget Sound’s Whidbey Island, about 20 miles north of Seattle (go 'Hawks!).

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