November 15, 2013 in City

Report faults ferry’s crew in collision with sailboat

Associated Press

SEATTLE – An investigation into the collision of a Washington ferry and a sailboat two months ago in the San Juan Islands found human error by the ferry’s captain and second mate was responsible, the Transportation Department said.

A report by the department’s board of inquiry released Wednesday said the captain lost situational awareness and gave a late command to turn left that the second mate applied in the wrong direction.

Washington state Ferries is making changes to prevent similar incidents in the future, said the agency’s director, David Moseley.

The Coast Guard is still investigating. The captain and second mate are on paid administrative leave while the Ferries Division considers possible discipline, the Kitsap Sun reported Wednesday.

The 382-foot Hyak was on the way from Lopez Island to Orcas Island on Sept. 18 when it overtook the motoring 25-foot sailboat Taysa from behind.

After the collision the sailboat sank in 250 feet of water. The only person on board, 68-year-old Jack Gray, of Chimacum, was rescued by nearby boaters.

The investigation determined the collision was avoidable, finding the Hyak had adequate time, equipment and sea room to avoid the boat.

Capt. Patricia Whaley was in charge of the navigational watch and Second Mate Kirsten Hervey was at the helm, the report states.

According to the report, Hervey told Whaley the Hyak was getting close to the sailboat. The captain directed her to “come left and blow the whistle if you feel it is necessary.” Hervey put the rudder to starboard instead of port for about four seconds, realized the mistake and went full left rudder, the report said. Seeing that, Whaley ordered the engines full astern and took the helm from Hervey before hitting the sailboat.

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