Rescue tug assists Tacoma container ship

For the 33rd time since 1999, including four times since the start of this winter season, the state-funded rescue tug has been called into service.

Late Thursday, a 758-foot container ship lost electrical power eight miles northwest of Cape Flattery. The Scotland had been heading toward the Strait of Juan de Fuca, with a final destination of the Port of Tacoma.

The U.S. Coast Guard directed the Scotland to move offshore and await arrival of a tug escort. Using its backup generator, the ship changed course to wait a safe distance off the Washington coast.

Within the hour, the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) released the rescue tug Gladiator to leave its homeport of Neah Bay and escort the ship to Port Angeles.

The Scotland was met by the Gladiator, which safely escorted the ship to Port Angeles early today. Another tug, the Jeffrey Foss, took over escort of the Scotland for the final leg of its journey into Puget Sound.

State funding for the rescue tug is nearly exhausted this year, and the current deployment of the Gladiator will end on or about May 3. A tug will once again be stationed at Neah Bay next fall.

“Events such as this one prove that a rescue tug is a critical part of our effort to prevent environmental damage in our state,” said Dale Jensen, who oversees Ecology’s spills program. “Loss of propulsion, steering or power can happen to a ship at any time of the year.”