Gov. Gary Locke and the Makah Indians say they believe a permanent rescue tugboat on the Strait of Juan de Fuca could not only help protect the environment but could provide additional security. In a recent letter to Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, both D-Wash., and Democratic Reps. Norm Dicks and Rick Larsen, Locke wrote that the rescue tug Barbara Foss' presence is even more critical because the Coast Guard has had to send some of its coastal personnel to improve security at Puget Sound ports. Locke said that in addition to its primary mission of assisting disabled vessels, the tug is available to monitor or escort vessels that pose security or safety risks, conduct search and rescue operations, and potentially assist the Coast Guard in any terrorist-related events. Locke also made a plea for federal funding to help station the tug permanently at Neah Bay. State officials allocated $1.7 million for the tug this winter. But Locke said the economic downturn may prevent the state from continuing that funding. Makah Chairman Greig Arnold wrote to Murray that he also supports federal funding, and suggested that the shipping and oil industries be tapped for a share of the cost.
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