NEAH BAY TUG CONDUCTS RESCUE AS STATE DEBATES ITS MERIT

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A state-funded rescue tug boat stationed at Neah Bay responded to help another tug that lost an engine while towing a barge loaded with an estimated 46,000 barrels of gasoline Sunday.

The response came as continued funding for the tug is under debate in the state Legislature.

The budget proposed by Gov. Gary Locke and spending package approved by the state Senate both include $3 million to pay for stationing the tug at Neah Bay over the next two winters. But funding for the tug was not included in the House budget.

The 126-foot tug Barbara Foss, which has been stationed at Neah Bay since September under a $1.65 million state contract, responded to the partially disabled tug Caribe Challenger shortly after 10 a.m. Sunday.

The Caribe Challenger crew had to shut down one of the boat's two main engines because it lost coolant and was in danger of overheating as it towed the gasoline-laden barge about 28 miles west of LaPush, said Sandy Howard, a state Department of Ecology spokeswoman.

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