Coast Guard tests new Emergency Towing System

ASTORIA, Ore. — The Coast Guard, along with members of the local commercial fishing and tugboat industry, tested Thirteenth Coast Guard District’s new Emergency Towing System, Wednesday.

Students aboard the Tongue Point Job Corps training vessel Ironwood assisted with the drill and received hands on training with the kit after it was deployed by an MH-60 helicopter crew from Air Station Astoria.

The ETS is a pre-staged package of equipment that would be delivered to a disabled vessel requiring assistance. The kit can be deployed from a tugboat or helicopter and consists of a lightweight high performance towline, a messenger line used in deploying the towline, a lighted buoy, and chafing gear.

The ETS program came into existence following the near grounding of the motor vessel Salica Frigo on March 9, 2007 in Unalaska Bay, Alaska, but Wednesday’s exercise marked the beginning of its use in the waters of Washington and Oregon.

“The safety, security and environmental health of coastal Oregon and Washington, and the Columbia River, is vitally important,” said Capt. Bruce Jones, Coast Guard Sector Columbia River Commander. “It is also a shared responsibility of government and the private sector. This exercise exemplifies our collaborative efforts to enhance regional preparedness for emergencies which could threaten our waterways.”

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