SEATTLE - Roughly 600 passengers were stranded on a ferry that ran aground near Bainbridge Island around 4:30 p.m. Saturday. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, no injuries have been reported.
The Walla Walla ran aground in Rich Passage around 4:30 p.m. as it was traveling from the city of Bremerton to Seattle, according to Washington State Ferries, a division of the state Department of Transportation.
"Initial indications are the vessel suffered a generator failure," but investigators were still looking into what happened, the agency said.
There were 596 passengers and 15 crew members aboard, according to ferries spokesperson Diane Rhodes. A tug boat and the Coast Guard were on the scene.
A photo taken by a Coast Guard officer showed the vessel near the shore as people looked at it from the beach and snapped pictures. A tug was positioned at one end of the ferry with an apparent Coast Guard boat nearby.
Passengers were initially kept onboard. One passenger suffered a medical emergency unrelated to the grounding and necessitated an evacuation, the agency said.
Multiple passengers on-board tell FOX 13 that the ship can't be moved without causing damage until the tide changes, the tide is scheduled to shift around 11:30 p.m. – roughly seven hours after the ship initially ran aground in the Rich Passage.
Washington Department of Ecology
"Vessel engineers believe tide will be at the right height to safely tow the boat at midnight. We apologize to passengers. Their safety is our first priority," Washington State Ferries said via Twitter.
"When we impacted it felt like an earthquake," said Kyle Bulger, a passenger on-board. "We shuffled around, it moved everyone around and everyone was confused."
Bulger told FOX 13 that the lights flickered, and that the ship appeared to lose power. Initial information tweeted by WSDOT through the Washington State Ferries page, indicates that a generator failed before the ship ran aground.
According to the Coast Guard, a plan has been hatched to utilize Kitsap fast ferries to move people so they aren't stuck on the ship for an extended period of time.
Tugboats were brought in to move the ship, however, they are trying to avoid any further damage to the hull of the ship by dragging it while the tide is low.
"Hopefully (high tide) would re-float it, but if it doesn't refloat the vessel we can at least a little of that water around the vessel to slowly yank it off," said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Steve Strohmaier.
It's unclear how much horsepower would be needed to move the ship, however, Strohmaier told FOX 13 that they'll assess all possibilities when they get to that point if the ship doesn't move on it's own.
Initial reports from the Washington Department of Ecology indicate that no fuel has been spilled.
"No pollution or hull damage detected at this time," the state Department of Ecology reported. "Ecology responders on the way to the scene."
Authorities say crews are aboard using cutters, and a helicopter is on its way to assist.
The Seattle-Bremerton route was out of service until further notice, the Department of Transportation said on its website.
The website lists the Walla Walla as a four-engine, jumbo class ferry with a maximum capacity of 2,000 passengers and 188 vehicles. It is 440 feet (134 meters) in length with a draft of 18 feet (5.4 meters).
The Walla Walla was constructed in 1973 in Seattle and rebuilt in 2003, according to the site.
This is a developing story, check back for updates.