Uh-oh: Work crew accidentally drills hole into ferry's hull

The ferry Walla Walla pulls into Edmonds. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND -- Washington State Ferries maintenance crews working on the ferry Walla Walla unintentionally drilled a hole into the hull of the vessel, creating a leak, the Washington State Department of Transportation said Monday.

"Crews and divers stopped the leak immediately, and WSF is developing a full repair plan this week," WSDOT said in a news release.

The incident occurred Saturday at the WSF's Eagle Harbor Maintenance Facility while the 188-car Walla Walla was undergoing annual maintenance.  Part of the maintenance includes cleaning out the bilges with soap and pressurized water.

"Crews drilled holes into the bilge deck to drain dirty water and paint chips resulting from the cleaning," the WSDOT release said. "Crews successfully drilled one, 1.75 inch drain hole; however, the second drain hole unintentionally went through the hull, causing sea water to leak into the vessel."

The crews used a temporary clamp to plug the leak from inside the vessel, WSDOT said, while divers repaired the external side with a pressurized patch.

"Plans to return the Walla Walla to service this week are postponed until vessel engineers can make permanent repairs," WSDOT said. "WSF initiated an investigation into the incident in accordance with protocols in its Safety Management System."