Friday, July 1, 2016

USCG Intervenes in Dangerous Puget Sound Situations

By Mark Edward Nero

Coast Guard vessel traffic system personnel recently intervened in the transit of three vessels that were on course to run aground in Puget Sound or were at risk of collision.

The members of Coast Guard Vessel Traffic System Puget Sound used unconventional means, the Coast Guard says, to contact two of the vessels after VTS personnel were unable to reach them by mandated communication channels, plus helped troubleshoot a GPS discrepancy with the third vessel.

On June 20, VTS personnel initiated an alert to the crew of the fishing vessel Northwind after all other attempts to contact them via required radio channels failed while the vessel was observed exiting the traffic lane and heading toward Buckeye Shoal.

The second case occurred June 21 when VTS personnel coordinated with the master of fishing vessel Autumn Dawn to troubleshoot a plotter discrepancy that had the vessel outside the traffic lane and on a course close to Peapod Rocks.

Then on June 22, VTS personnel worked with the crew of a nearby tug to make contact with the operator of the fishing vessel Lady Gudny after numerous failed radio attempts were made while the vessel was observed entering the oncoming traffic lane and heading toward Marrowstone Island.

“These incidents highlight the benefits of having an organization that can proactively monitor and when necessary, direct traffic to avoid maritime incidents,” VTS Puget Sound Director Laird Hail said.

VTS members manage around 230,000 vessels, typically 65 feet or greater in length, and intervene an average of 40 potential collisions or groundings each year.