What a fine mess this old hulk of a ship has become. If the darn decrepit thing sinks at its moorings in Tacoma's Hylebos Waterway -- and the betting odds are strongly in favor it will -- the Kalakala could trigger an economic disaster. The Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers have bleakly concluded that if the vessel goes down it would block the busy waterway, resulting in another fine mess.
Corps spokesman William Dowell said there are estimates that anywhere from $8 million to $23 million monthly in income and employment losses for local companies and temporary unemployment for 1,000 to 3,000 workers could occur if the ship goes into the drink.
It might take up to five month and price tag of nearly $8 million just to cart away the sunken Kalakala -- and half that amount even if it doesn't sink.
"At this point, there's no money to do this," Dowell informs Three Sheets Northwest, who have reported extensively on the 1926 ferry. "You're talking about taking money away from other projects that are necessary (in order to) to take of this thing."
The Kalakala's days are numbered and the recent snow and ice storms further deteriorated the 276-foot ship, prompting the Coast Guard to declare it a navigational hazard. It also fined the ship's owner, Steve Rodrigues, $5,000 for failing to comply with its requirements to fix the hull and not having a plan to move it to a new location.
Rodrigues was informed by the Coast Guard in late December that the Kalakala was in a state of "advanced degration" and "highly likely" it would sink.
Last week, the Corps put out an emergency call for a contractor to be ready to stabilize and move the ship, but as Three Sheets reports, "the cost involved makes the vessel a hot potato that no federal agency wants to touch."
An inglorious -- and costly -- ending for the Kalakala now seems inevitable.