Members of the iconic Seattle band Soundgarden joined King County, Washington executive Dow Constantine on June 29 to launch SoundGuardian, the county’s new environmental research vessel.
The new 48-foot vessel, which was built by local shipbuilder Kvichak Marine Industries, was named via a public contest. It replaces Liberty, an outdated vessel that has been in service since 1977.
SoundGuardian is to be used by field scientists at the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks to collect samples in Puget Sound, Lake Washington and the Duwamish River, as well as respond to environmental emergencies like illegal spills and dumping, toxic algae blooms, fish kills and beach erosion.
“We’re providing King County scientists with the equipment they need to monitor the quality of our water, quickly respond to emergencies, and study the effects of climate change,” said Constantine. “The work our researchers do in the field and on the water is critical to our quality of life, so it’s important that they have the right tools to get the job done.”
The county says the new twin-hull vessel is more fuel efficient and easier to navigate in choppy waters, something that’s critical during environmental emergencies. SoundGuardian is also expected to increase productivity by enabling field scientists to conduct more research in the same amount of time.
The Department of Natural Resources and Parks considered other options, including upgrading the existing vessel and renting a boat. The department determined that it would ultimately be less expensive to purchase a new vessel for about $2 million, using the same capital program that the Wastewater Treatment Division uses to purchase other equipment.
Soundgarden members Matt Cameron and Kim Thayil participated in the dedication ceremony on the Seattle Ship Canal.