Tragedy strikes on board the ferry Peralta on February 17, 1928.

  • By Alan J. Stein
  • Posted 11/10/1998
  • Essay 317
On February 17, 1928, a fatal accident occurs in Oakland, California, on board the Peralta (whose hull was used to build the renowned Puget Sound ferry, the Kalakala). The bow floods and five passengers are drowned.

The Peralta, carrying 4,000 passengers, approached the Oakland ferry terminal, and as passengers gathered at the docking end, the bow sank into the water. Waves swept over the deck. Passengers jumped overboard or were swept into the water.

In part, panicking passengers caused the accident. But the main cause was failure of the trimming tanks, tanks designed to be filled with water to counterbalance the weight of passengers. The tanks should have been filled in the aft when commuters congregated on the bow, but on this occasion the wrong tanks were filled, plunging the vessel headfirst into icy waters. The tanks were never used again.

Sources: M[ary] S. Kline and G.A. Bayless, Ferryboats: A Legend on Puget Sound (Seattle: Bayless Books, 1983), 229-247.

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