Surprise Coast Guard Inspection

Good morning, Rachel,

Would you please explain why the US Coast Guard did a surprise inspection April 13, shutting down ferry operations from the return of the 2pm until 4:30pm? It was tremendously disruptive with parents stuck on one side and their pre-schoolers on the other.


We inadvertently missed an inspection, and upon being notified by the United States Coast Guard (USCG), they had us return to the Anacortes dock until they could dispatch an Inspector. We immediately complied with that request, and within approximately two hours, the inspection was complete and we were able to re-enter service. We appreciate the USCG being so responsive and accommodating to the needs of our ferry service and the riders. We apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused. You can rest assured we will be developing protocols so that this never happens again.

Captain Rachel Rowe
Ferry Operations Division Manager Skagit County Public Works

Martin Taylor: 6:57am - 4/25/18
In the interest of fairness and with all due respect, the notion that the April 13 shut-down of the M/V Guemes was a “Surprise Inspection” is nonsense. Unlike surprise birthday parties, the United States Coast Guard does not do “Surprise Inspections” of passenger vessels and shut down public transportation on a whim, especially on a Friday where the sole source of transportation is involved. The Coast Guard schedules such things, like most responsible people. Truth be told, the ferry manager either forgot or failed to respond to Coast Guard requests to schedule their inspection. Oops. Fortunately, we are promised, “we will be developing protocols so this never happens again.” Gosh, I’d be happy to just buy a calendar and donate it to Public Works so they could simply write things down. You know, like a grocery list. I wish taking care of our existing means of transportation received as much attention as acquiring a new ferry.
Sandy McKean: 8:48am - 4/29/18
"Surprise Inspection"?? Who invented that term? I don't see the use of the word "surprise" anywhere in the Ferry Manager's explanation of what happened. The word I see is "inadvertent". As I read the Ferry Manager's explanation, I see an admission that there was a screw-up, an inadvertent, or to use a synonym, an unintentional, screw-up. Someone screwed up, and an inspection that should have occurred did not. That is an error that the Ferry Manager is taking responsibility for as proven by the fact that she says that protocols are being developed to insure that this error, true an avoidable error, but still an unintentional error, will not happen again. We all make mistakes; and frankly, I don't see how mis-characterizing the error as a surprise with its attendant negative overtones helps anyone.
Martin Taylor: 9:06pm - 5/2/18
The term “Surprise” came from the headline on the original posting regarding the April 13th USCG ferry shut down. The notion that this was a surprise inspection lacks candor. Historically members of the ferry committee have been advocates for islanders first--sometimes holding the County accountable for service. Ferry service is part of being tax payers and fare payers on this portion of Skagit County’s road system. When this service is interrupted due to oversight (and not unavoidable mechanical issues), it warrants scrutiny of the person responsible. Rather than excusing the Ferry Manager, I would expect close inquiry into the why and wherefore of losing service on that Friday afternoon. This is one role of Ferry Committee members. Care of our existing vessel and its passenger legal status is job one of the Ferry Manager. Failure to do this warrants a reprimand.
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