By Mark Edward Nero
The U.S. Coast Guard Puget Sound sector’s Captain of the Port has issued a $100,000 civil penalty against a Washington man who intentionally struck the ferry Tokitae with a high-powered blue laser last October.
Coast Guard investigating officers determined that Mark Raden of Freeland, Washington was aboard Washington State Ferries’ M/V Kitsap transiting between the cities of Mukilteo and Clinton on Oct. 22, 2015 when he pointed the laser at the pilothouse of Tokitae, resulting in injuries to the ferry master and chief mate.
“Firing a laser at a vessel is extremely dangerous and directly interferes with the safe movement of commercial vessels and the Coast Guard’s ability to conduct search and rescue operations,” Sector Puget Sound Captain of the Port Joe Raymond said in a statement.
Coast Guard officials are also seeking civil penalties against Raden for violation of a safety and security zone as well as interference with the safe operation of Tokitae while in transit. The final civil penalty amount is expected to be determined by a Coast Guard hearing officer in Arlington, Virginia.
In addition to laser strikes on Washington State Ferries, laser strikes involving Coast Guard helicopters and rescue boats in Puget Sound have continued to increase over the last few years, according to the USCG.
“Such strikes have adverse impacts on the conduct of Coast Guard law enforcement and search and rescue activities potentially affecting the ability to respond to a distress call or provide proper medical care of someone rescued,” the USCG said in a statement. “In addition, they can cause physical injury to any individuals struck.”