Friday, November 11, 2011

UPDATE: Emergency response tugs escorting cargo vessel to Port of Tacoma

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 3:45 p.m., November 11, 2011
News release #2
Contact: Dieter Bohrmann, Department of Ecology media relations; 360-701-7401

OLYMPIA – The Department of Ecology is coordinating with the U.S. Coast Guard to escort a cargo vessel to the Port of Tacoma for inspection and repairs. The M/V Edfu is currently in the Strait of Juan de Fuca near Neah Bay.

The M/V Edfu briefly lost propulsion on Thursday evening and as it was crossing the Columbia River bar after leaving Astoria. The ship dropped both of its anchors then regained propulsion and is traveling under its own power. The Coast Guard ordered the vessel to hire tug boats to escort it on its trip from Astoria to Tacoma for inspection and repairs.

The tug boats Protector and Response are now providing escort. The M/V Edfu is expected to arrive in Tacoma about 3 a.m. Saturday.

The Coast Guard is reporting that the M/V Edfu lost propulsion due to a main engine failure and is missing both required anchors. Ecology will continue to work with the Coast Guard to monitor the ship. The Edfu was built in 1997 and is sailing under the flag of Egypt.

More information will be provided on Ecology’s incident website as it becomes available.

Ecology and the Coast Guard also responded last month when the Edfu lost propulsion near the mouth of the Columbia River on Oct. 11. In that incident, the ship was able to anchor and maintain its position. It eventually regained power and was escorted across the Columbia River bar to the Port of Astoria on Oct. 13.

Neah Bay tug an invaluable resource for spills prevention

Last year, after watching with concern the events of the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Washington State Legislature passed laws that help continue protecting this state from the risk of major oil spills.

Commercial vessels like the Edfu are now required to immediately notify Ecology when they experience a vessel emergency such as a loss of propulsion. Early reporting allows us to work with the Coast Guard and take actions to protect our economy and environment before a spill occurs.

In this case, the Coast Guard ordered the Edfu to hire several tugs to assist in a safe transit to a port of refuge to determine the cause of the loss of propulsion. The privately-funded emergency response tug at Neah Bay is one of the tugs hired. Since 1999, this response tug has been called out nearly 50 times. On 11 of these responses the tug had to take disabled vessels in tow to prevent them from drifting onto the rocks and spilling oil. The actions taken in those cases helped prevent a combined spill potential of nearly 5 million gallons of oil.

Prevention of spills and early intervention before they occur are examples of best achievable protection for Washington. Ecology will be working throughout 2012 to update the oil spill readiness rules to enhance our broader community’s ability to respond to an oil spill day or night under all conditions.


Ecology incident website (

Ecology news release #1 (

Ecology Spills Program (

Ecology homepage (

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