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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

March 10, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Neah Bay rescue tug

Serving special interests, not vessels in distress

The proposal to station a tugboat at Neah Bay [“State coast may get coveted rescue tug,” Local News, March 7] will benefit some special interests: residents of Neah Bay, who will benefit economically from the people and equipment stationed there, and the lucky tug company that wins the contract to park one of their boats on the coast and get paid for it.

It will not provide the environmental safety net that some would have us believe.

Every day, hundreds of active tugboats ply Puget Sound waters 24/7. At any one time, several of these big oceangoing tugs are in closer proximity to disabled vessels than a Neah Bay tug would be.

These are the tugs that currently respond to vessels in distress. Thanks to these working “rescue tugs,” there has not been a drift grounding in Puget Sound since before World War II.

Further, wind and current conditions would push a disabled vessel north, away from the U.S. coastline — and the Neah Bay tug’s ability to chase it.

A better station for such a tug would be Tofino on Vancouver Island, where a tug could come out to meet a disabled vessel.

But, where’s the financial benefit to U.S. special interests in that?

— Peter Philips, Seattle

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