SEATTLE (AP) – A passenger ferry carrying hundreds of people ran aground Saturday near Bainbridge Island west of Seattle, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or contamination, authorities said.
The Walla Walla ran aground in Rich Passage around 4:30 p.m. while traveling from the city of Bremerton to Seattle, according to Washington State Ferries, a division of the state Department of Transportation.
“Initial indications are that the vessel suffered a generator failure,” but investigators are still looking into what happened, the agency said.
There were 596 passengers and 15 crew members on board, ferry spokeswoman Diane Rhodes said. A tugboat and the Coast Guard were on the scene.
“The vessel’s engineers believe the tide will be at the right height to safely tow the ship at midnight. We apologize to the passengers. Their safety is our number one priority,” Washington State Ferries said via Twitter.
The passengers were initially kept on board. One passenger suffered a medical emergency unrelated to the grounding and required evacuation, the agency said.
Kitsap Transit was ferrying people from Walla Walla to Bremerton using a passenger-only ferry, the agency said shortly after 8 p.m., just around low tide.
“We are working on a plan for the vehicles in the vehicle so that passengers can pick them up tomorrow,” it added.
A photo taken by a Coast Guard officer shows the vessel near the shore as people watch it from the beach and take photos. The tug was positioned at one end of the ferry, and there was apparently a Coast Guard boat nearby.
“No pollution or hull damage has been detected at this time,” the state Department of Ecology reported. “Environmentally responsive on the way to the scene.”
The Seattle-Bremerton route was out of service until further notice, the Department of Transportation said on its website.
The Walla Walla’s website lists it as a four-engine, jumbo-class ferry with a maximum capacity of 2,000 passengers and 188 vehicles. It is 440 feet (134 meters) long with a draft of 18 feet (5.4 meters).
Walla Walla was built in 1973 in Seattle and renovated in 2003, according to the website.