Kalakala relocates to safer, temporary moorage

Published July 24, 2012

SEATTLE – The historic ferry Kalakala moved a short distance upstream to a newly-built, more-suitable temporary mooring location provided by an adjacent landowner.

The vessel was moved close to the current temporary moorage June 30 with final positioning Monday. The landowner, Tacoma Industrial Properties, recently constructed a 650-foot-long structure and volunteered to temporarily moor the vessel.

In December, U.S. Coast Guard officials declared the Kalakala a hazard to navigation due to unsuitable mooring, advanced degradation of the ship’s hull and lack of reliable dewatering equipment. Although Coast Guard and Corps officials did not request assistance of the private party, they did meet with the landowner, who is not the vessel owner, after the declaration to explore options, capabilities and common interests to resolve the situation.

“Our expectation is that these actions will greatly reduce the threat of the Kalakala sinking and blocking the channel for the near to mid-term,” said District Engineer Col. Bruce Estok. “This averts a potentially costly operation for taxpayers. The adjacent landowner is also working with the Kalakala's owner to develop a longer term plan for the vessel's ultimate disposition.”

The structure consists of seven 3-pile dolphins and eventually a 4-foot wide grated catwalk will connect them. The new site will also have shore power, which Corps officials anticipate will be used to power new pumps provided by the landowner. Also, the new location is in deeper water, reducing possible damage to the vessel from repeated grounding, as happened at its previous location during low tides, Corps officials said.

The permitted structure wasn’t built to specifically moor the Kalakala but is part of the landowner’s master plan to provide commercial vessel moorage capabilities, at Tacoma Industrial Properties’ Taylor Way parcels under general redevelopment as an industrial transloading facility. The landowner submitted a proposal to build the structure in April 2012 and received a Department of the Army permit. Construction began in May and was completed this month.

The National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service completed Endangered Species Act consultation as part of the Corps’ permitting process. The landowner followed all requirements to comply with the consultation including, among other elements, removal of a derelict barge and monitoring the impacts of construction noise on marine life.

Bill Dowell

Release no. 12-022