Rescue tug rescues the coastal environment

It happened again Dec. 3: Another near grounding of a cargo ship off the Washington coast at our home in Neah Bay.

Forty-foot seas powered by 90 mph winds knocked out the main steering on the 720-foot Mattson Kauai near the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Waves shattered all of the windows in the ship’s wheelhouse as the vessel wallowed offshore.

Thankfully, the ocean rescue tug Gladiator was on station and able to tow the Kauai to safety. Sadly, neither the state nor federal government will commit to financing placement of a rescue tug year-round in Neah Bay.

Close calls like the Kauai don’t make much of a splash in the news, and they happen more often than you know. In the past eight years, the part-time rescue tug at Neah Bay has assisted more than 30 ships in distress. Every year more than 2,000 cargo ships enter the Strait of Juan de Fuca bound for Puget Sound.