Emergency Response Towing Vessel (ERTV)
Last updated 02/10/2014
To help protect Washington’s shorelines and waterways, the Washington State maritime industry has permanently stationed an emergency response towing vessel (ERTV) in Neah Bay. The tug is an important safety net to prevent disabled ships and barges from grounding off our outer coast or in the western Strait of Juan de Fuca, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. An oil spill in this area would pose a substantial threat to Puget Sound’s environment, economy, and culture.
Since 1999, the tug has deployed to stand by or directly assist
49 vessels that were either completely disabled or had reduced
maneuvering ability. Vessels that have required assistance
include deep draft cargo vessels, large fishing and fish
processing vessels, fully laden oil and chemical tank ships, and
tugs with tank barges in tow. On 12 of these responses the tug
had to take the disabled vessels in tow to prevent them from
drifting onto the rocks and spilling oil. The actions taken in
those 12 cases helped prevent a combined spill potential of over
3 million gallons of oil.
History of the ERTV
The Neah Bay ERTV was initially established through the U.S.
Navy, in 1999, by U.S. Congressman Norm Dicks. The Makah
Nation, whose reservation includes the town of Neah Bay,
provided some initial funding in 2000 through its settlement
payment from the 1991 Tenyo Maru oil spill. After this
initial investment of funds, the State of Washington assumed
exclusive financial responsibility for the tug. During the
first few years of service, there was only enough funding to
station a tug at the entrance of the Strait during the winter
months when the weather and sea conditions posed the largest
threat. However, after July 1, 2008 the state paid to
station the ERTV in Neah Bay year-round at a cost of $3.6
million per year.
The Jeffrey Foss stationed at Neah Bay.
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