The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Tugs scramble for ocean rescue


The Coast Guard coordinated assistance for the disabled tug Mauna Loa who became disabled and began to drift towards the Washington coast on May 23.

The 113-foot Mauna Loa along with their 320-foot barge were met by the crew of tug vessel Lauren Foss, who took it into tow and is towing the disabled vessel to Port Angeles.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Columbia River received the report from the master of the disabled tug stating that they suffered engine failure and were drifting toward the coast. Watchstanders then coordinated with the owner of the tug who contracted with the tugs Lauren Foss, out of Neah Bay, and the David Brusco, out of Cathlamet, to intercept the Mauna Loa before it could drift aground.

Due to increasing currents, a Coast Guard Station Grays Harbor 47-foot Motor Life Boat crew launched to act as emergency safety standby to pull the four crewmembers from the Mauna Loa in the event the en route tugs were unable to arrive on scene before they ran aground.

The Lauren Foss is the current emergency rescue towing vessel (ERTV) based out of Neah Bay. The ERTV is a State of Washington mandated program funded by fees levied on vessels calling on Puget Sound. This program was developed to provide a resource to ensure that vessels that became disabled offshore were able to be intercepted before they endangered our ecologically sensitive shores. The ERTV is continually stationed in Neah Bay to respond to incidents just like this one. Depending on the circumstances of the deployment of the ERTV, another tug may backfill for the ERTV when it is deployed as it was in this case. The Marine Exchange of Puget Sound acts as the administrative agent for the ERTV program, however, the services of the ERTV, when needed, are arranged for directly with the dispatches at Foss Maritime.

Weather on scene at the time of the incident was reported as 25 mph winds and 8-foot seas.


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