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‘Soundgarden’ lends its name to King County’s new research ship

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SEATTLE  --  A - new King County research ship takes its  name from a Seattle group that helped form the grunge scene in the 1990s.

On Wednesday, members of Seattle-based "Soundgarden" helped christen the "SoundGuardian" research ship.

The twin-hulled vessel will monitor water quality and respond to emergencies in both Puget Sound and in freshwater bodies of water.

"We've won Grammys and we've won, you know, a few awards through the years,” said Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron.  “But this is a real special one because it's tied into our city and, you know, the culture that we have here.  So we're real, we're very proud to be a part of it."

“And there's a strong sense of pride and honor with the civic mission," said Kim Thayil, one of the band’s founding members.  “These are issues that are obviously of concern, especially if you have kids.  There’s a strong sense of civic pride in regards to Seattle and the Northwest.”

The man who named the "SoundGuardian” in a contest also celebrated, and met the two Soundgarden members, who say the ship fits in with their support of the environment.

“We love the natural resources here and are in tune with keeping our environment safe and this vessel will certainly help out in this endeavor,” Cameron said.

The 48-foot vessel gets to work right away, playing a role to make sure stormwater and other pollution stays out of the Sound.

It’ll be used by field scientists at the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks to collect samples in the Sound, and in freshwater bodies like Lake Washington and the Duwamish River.  It will also respond to environmental emergencies, such as spills and illegal dumping, toxic algae, fish kills and beach erosion.

“It’s so important to our county’s mission to protecting clean water for wildlife and for people,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.

Local shipbuilder Kvichak Marine Industries, on the Lake Washington Ship Canal, won the contract to design and build the new boat.

It’s an all-aluminum, hydrofoil-assisted hull, the 13th foil-assisted catamaran Kvichak has built since 2000.   The design lifts the boat off the water and is supposed to enhance performance at top speeds, while reducing fuel consumption, giving greater efficiency.

The “SoundGuardian” will conduct operations in Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and adjoining inland waterways.

Crews will take water samples for research at the King County Wastewater Treatment Division. The vessel will be conducting water sampling research, marine buoy calibration, maintenance and retrieval, tours and shoreline surveys, and dive operations.

Kvichak says at lower speeds the system provides a smoother ride, making the hull an excellent platform for the type of survey work performed by research vessels.

The vessel will be powered by Cummins Tier III engines, Hamilton water jets and Twin Disc gears.

Other features include a full service water quality lab, chemical storage locker, a three-foot diameter moonpool on the aft deck, and an AirMar Weather Station 200WX system.