Beginning July 1, the emergency response tug will begin an unprecedented tour of duty for – providing 365 continuous days of service to help prevent oil spills in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and along coastlines.
Since 1999, state-funded response tugs stationed at have kept disabled ships from drifting onto rocks and causing major oil spills during the stormy winter months. The tugs have stood by or assisted 40 ships that were disabled or had reduced maneuvering or propulsion.
During the 2008 legislative session, Gov. Gregoire and state lawmakers earmarked $3.7 million for the tug and directed the Department of Ecology (Ecology) to contract for year-round emergency response tug service starting July 1, 2008, through June 30, 2009.
In April, Ecology and Crowley Maritime Corp. () agreed to extend the company’s existing contract to station a high-horsepower, ocean-going tug at for a year. The agreement marks the first time a response tug will provide a full year of continuous service.
Under the agreement, will receive $8,500 a day plus fuel costs. Ecology recently reached an agreement with the Makah Indian Tribe to install new electrical outlets and upgrade other infrastructure at the Neah Bay Marina where the tug docks.
’s ocean-going tug Hunter will start service and remain on standby in until Gladiator, the tug the company has previously stationed at , completes its current contract to tow a ship located in the to a safe port.
State Sen. Harriet Spanel, one of the strongest advocates for the response tug for the past 10 years, said that the current state level of funding is enough to keep the tug at for a year – until a permanent, stable funding source can be established.