WSF sees errors in Chetzemoka reports

The in basket: During the run-up to the ferry Chetzemoka’s beginning service from Port Townsend, I thought I heard one of the Seattle TV stations call it the most expensive ferry ever built in this country.

Can that be true, I asked ferry spokespersons. It’s only about half the size of the Mark II jumbos our ferry system had built, although that was many years ago.

The out basket: I don’t know if ferry public affairs already had it written, but I almost immediately got back the following news release claiming seven inaccuracies in reports about the new ferry:

The Chetzemoka: setting the record straight

While we have appreciated the generally accurate coverage of Washington State Ferries’ new, 64-vehicle Chetzemoka ferry, there are a few inaccuracies in various media reports that we would like to address. With today’s 24-hour news cycle, information is reported quickly and often repeated again and again and/or picked up and used by others.

·         Inaccuracy: The Chetzemoka has an unanticipated or unintended incline to one side (list) that is noticeable while the boat is sailing, making it inefficient and creating safety concerns.

·         Correct information: The 1 percent list is part of the design to maximize the number of trucks/oversize vehicles the vessel can carry, and is due to the location of three stair towers and two elevators on one side. Based on the design, the ferry has no list when loaded with vehicles. As part of the vessel’s certification process, the U.S. Coast Guard performed a vessel-wide stability test and deemed the Chetzemoka safe. The Island Home, a Massachusetts ferry whose design was used for the Chetzemoka, also has a designed-in 1 percent list that is eliminated when the vessel is loaded with vehicles. There is no plan to add ballast (weight) to counter this list when the vessel is not loaded.

·         Inaccuracy: The Chetzemoka is the most expensive ferry ever built in the United States.

·         Correct information: WSF’s Jumbo Mark II ferries cost $86 million each. The Kennicott (Alaska) cost more than $80 million. The Hawaiian Superferries, the Alakai and Huakai, came in at $85 million and $91 million, respectively. (The Chetzemoka cost $79.4 million.)

·         Inaccuracy: The Chetzemoka was supposed to cost $65.5 million but, instead, cost $80.1 million.

·         Correct information: Final cost of the Chetzemoka was $79.4 million. The original budget was $76.93 million (including construction, risk and contingency, and construction management). The $65.5 million figure was the construction bid from Todd Shipyards. It is a standard practice in capital budgeting to include contingency and risk costs and construction management. There has been an additional $663,000 of work on the Chetzemoka that will be charged to the three-vessel procurement program. When the Legislature funded the second and third vessels with a $136.3 million budget, WSF combined that with the $76.93 million Chetzemoka budget, giving us one budget for all three boats totaling $213.2 million.

·         Inaccuracy: The original engineer’s estimate to build the Chetzemoka was $49.5 million.

·         Correct information: The original $49.5 million engineer’s estimate was calculated assuming there would be competition. At the start of the process, four shipyards were interested. Three removed themselves for various reasons, including bonding and apprenticeship goals. A $58.2 million engineer’s estimate was used at bid opening, using the labor rate of the single source bid. The final construction bid was $65.5 million, or 11 percent different from the estimate.

·         Inaccuracy: WSF crews say the Chetzemoka is plagued with problems.

·         Correct information: The captains and crews who have trained on and are operating the Chetzemoka are pleased with the vessel’s performance. A number of media outlets have interviewed the captains and crews of the vessel, who are very forthright in their approval of the vessel.

·         Inaccuracy: The Chetzemoka’s propellers are inefficient.

·         Correct information: The Island Home has fixed-pitch propellers like the Chetzemoka, which operate well in challenging waterways with currents and restricted harbors in Massachusetts. WSF developed procedures and engine-control protocols during several weeks of sea trials to ensure efficient operation. The vessel is operating on WSF’s most challenging route, with strong cross currents at the narrow, shallow Keystone Harbor.

·         Inaccuracy: WSF needs to get out of the business of designing and building vessels.

·         Correct information: WSF does not design or build vessels. Elliott Bay Design Group designed the Chetzemoka and Todd Pacific Shipyards built it.

One thought on “WSF sees errors in Chetzemoka reports

  1. They have yet to define “1% tilt (list). 1% of what? 360 degrees? 180 (upside down)? 90 (ultimate list)?

    If some ferry worker forgets which side is which, and loads the wrong side too heavily, what is the list then?

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