June 23, 2016 - Coast Guard vessel traffic system personnel intervened in the transit of three vessels on course to run aground or at risk of collision in Puget Sound this week.
The members of Coast Guard Vessel Traffic System Puget Sound used unconventional means to contact two of the vessels after VTS personnel were unable to reach them by mandated communication channels, and helped troubleshoot a GPS discrepancy with the third.
On Monday, VTS personnel initiated a digital selective calling alert to the crew of the fishing vessel Northwind after all other attempts to contact them via the required radio channels 05A, 13 and 16 failed while the vessel was observed exiting the traffic lane and heading toward Buckeye Shoal.
The second case occurred Tuesday 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.
On Wednesday, 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 attempts were made over 5A, 13, 14 and 16, 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 throughout Puget Sound and thereby protect lives, property and the environment," said Laird Hail, director, VTS Puget Sound.
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.Their role is especially vital as larger vessels cargo vessels often have reduced visibility and are limited in their options to safely transit throughout Puget Sound.