Neah Bay tug aids crippled ship; ‘true value’ of mission shown

Article published Mar 4, 2010

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

NEAH BAY — The 712-foot container ship Horizon Tacoma was expected to reach the Port of Tacoma by 9 p.m. Wednesday, under tow by Neah Bay’s emergency response tug, the Hunter, and its companion vessel, the Garth Foss, after smoke was noticed late Tuesday night in the disabled vessel’s engine room.

No fires, spills or injuries were reported, Curt Hart, spokesman for the state Department of Ecology, said Wednesday afternoon.

“They still had full use of their thrusters and navigation,” he said.

The crew saw smoke coming from the No. 1 engine’s turbocharger, shut the engine down as a precaution and notified the Coast Guard, after which the state-funded Hunter made its first full emergency response of 2010 and its 11th in more than 10 years, Hart said.

A full emergency response occurs when an emergency tug attaches a line to a stricken vessel and takes it under tow for repairs.

It’s the 44th time an emergency response tug at Neah Bay has responded to a request for assistance off the Washington coast since 1991, when the tug was first stationed there, Hart said.

Hart said late Wednesday afternoon that the mini-flotilla tug was expected to arrive at the Port of Tacoma by 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Repair en route

A repair crew that boarded earlier Wednesday in Port Angeles may have repaired the Horizon Tacoma by the time it docks, Hart said.

The Horizon Tacoma had been headed from Dutch Harbor, Alaska, to Tacoma.

The crew notified the Coast Guard of the problem at about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The Hunter towed the vessel to Port Angeles, anchoring in Port Angeles Harbor at about 7 a.m. Wednesday when the repair crew boarded the vessel.

The Hunter also was joined in Port Angeles by the escort tug Garth Foss under orders from Suzanne Englebert, Coast Guard captain of the port, Puget Sound, Hart said.

The Hunter is stationed at Neah Bay under contract between owner Crowley Maritime Corp. and the state Department of Ecology.

The agency and Crowley have arranged to have a Crowley tug, Valor, stand by at Neah Bay until the Hunter returns, Hart said.

The Valor was already in Neah Bay by late Wednesday afternoon.

Ecology has a $3.6 million contract with Crowley to supply emergency response from June 30, 2009, to July 1, 2010, Hart said.

Private sector

Funding for Neah Bay tug operations shifts to the private sector July 1, Hart said.

“The law is that ships covered under our regulations by state law will have to pay to have that tug funded to make sure there’s an asset there at Neah Bay,” Hart said.

The incident Wednesday “shows the tug’s true value,” marine consultant and oil-spill activist Fred Felleman said.

“It’s not every day you have a fully dead ship under tow,” he added.

“That shows you the tug’s value. This was obviously a big problem.”


Senior staff writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-417-3536 or at

All materials Copyright © 2008 Horvitz Newspapers.

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~ by fredfelleman on March 4, 2010.

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