Words of thanks for the Aleutian Isle response team

Posted September 22, 2022 at 5:22 pm by

Photo credit: Global Diving & Salvage

Bren­dan Cow­an from the San Juan Coun­ty Depart­ment of Emer­gency Man­age­ment shares his appre­ci­a­tion for all of the peo­ple involved in the Aleut­ian Isle recov­ery efforts.

After 40 days of chal­leng­ing and com­plex work, the Aleut­ian Isle has been lift­ed ful­ly out of the water and onto a barge for trans­port to mainland.

The islands are so appre­cia­tive of the large team of peo­ple that made this hap­pen and are grate­ful the oper­a­tion hap­pened with­out seri­ous injury to any responder.

Despite this effort per­haps appear­ing sim­ple at first glance, it is dif­fi­cult to con­vey the scale and com­plex­i­ty of what occurred and the chal­lenges faced along the way.

First, thanks to Glob­al Div­ing & Sal­vage, Inc. The inge­nu­ity, courage, and per­se­ver­ance of their team, along with the Man­son Marine Con­struc­tion crew, was remark­able to wit­ness. US Ecol­o­gy capa­bly han­dled much of the on-water pol­lu­tion con­trol, with the help of Mar­ty Cheva­lier and his crew, the Islands’ Oil Spill Asso­ci­a­tion, Deb Fritz and Tow­Boa­tUS out of Fri­day Har­bor, and Pin­tail Marine.

Focus Wildlife’s team spent days and days on the water help­ing to min­i­mize wildlife impacts, and a whole team of local marine mam­mal experts from the Whale Muse­um, SeaD­oc, and oth­ers were on the water or on call through­out to help with orca mon­i­tor­ing and deterrence.

The local com­mu­ni­ty real­ly stepped up, hous­ing and feed­ing respon­ders and show­ing island hos­pi­tal­i­ty to respon­ders who spent more than a month away from their homes and fam­i­lies to sup­port the response. In par­tic­u­lar, Can­dace Rags­dale and the rest of the team at Roche Har­bor were remark­able with their sup­port amidst their busiest time of year. San Juan Island Fire & Res­cue shared bunk space with respon­ders and Fri­day Har­bor Labs went above and beyond with find­ing sleep­ing space. Many oth­er local hotels and rental oper­a­tors worked extra hard to accom­mo­date the team.

Last but not least, a huge thank you to our agency part­ners who lit­er­al­ly embed­ded them­selves in our com­mu­ni­ty over this response. The U.S. Coast Guard Pacif­ic North­west has had staff on-island from day one, and they’ve tru­ly been a plea­sure to work with. Wash­ing­ton State Depart­ment of Ecol­o­gy’s team has been a calm and steady pres­ence and their field staff have dropped every­thing in their lives to mobi­lize to the island. The Wash­ing­ton Depart­ment of Fish & Wildlife team were com­mit­ted and high­ly com­pe­tent. Swinomish Tribe has strong­ly sup­port­ed this effort from the begin­ning and their patrol boats have been a steady pres­ence on the water. Nation­al Ocean­ic and Atmos­pher­ic Admin­is­tra­tion sci­en­tists have sup­port­ed with weath­er and tidal mod­el­ing, and Cana­di­an respon­ders from the Coast Guard and Fish­eries and Oceans have pro­vid­ed expert sup­port as well.

And final­ly, I want to men­tion that the own­ers of the ves­sel have been vest­ed and com­mit­ted to sup­port­ing this response from the very begin­ning. A com­mon and under­stand­able reac­tion fol­low­ing a cri­sis of any kind is to find some­one to blame or vil­i­fy, and while an inves­ti­ga­tion is ongo­ing, rest assured that the local Wash­ing­ton fam­i­ly that owns this boat has been dev­as­tat­ed by the reper­cus­sions but 100 per­cent devot­ed to the response.

There is always a dan­ger when com­pil­ing lists of leav­ing some­one vital off — and to those I have, just know that the work that went into this was a true tes­ta­ment to the amaz­ing things that hap­pen when good peo­ple put their minds and hearts to some­thing and work smooth­ly togeth­er to achieve it. Thank you one and all!

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