Science, Clean Water and Local Rock Legends Take Center Stage at SoundGuardian Launch

Paying tribute to environmental science as well as the region’s legendary rock music scene, King County Executive Dow Constantine joined with members of the iconic band Soundgarden today to celebrate the official launch of the SoundGuardian, a new environmental research vessel that will support our water quality mission.IMG_0481

As soon as SoundGuardian emerged as a finalist in our public naming contest, we knew it was inevitable that people would make the connection to the name of the seminal band in the creation of an alternative rock sound synonymous with this region – Soundgarden.

IMG_0501IMG_0466While SoundGuardian was the hands-down winner of the “Name the Vessel” public vote last January, it turned members of the band Soundgarden were pretty fond of the name, too.

We were especially honored that drummer Matt Cameron and lead guitarist Kim Thayil could be available to be part of today’s dedication ceremony, which took place at our Environmental Laboratory along the Lake Washington Ship Canal in Seattle.

The new 48-foot twin-hull vessel will aid King County field scientists in their daily work to monitor and protect water quality in Puget Sound and other waterways.

It will also ensure our science team is properly equipped for the next several decades that will bring many more people to our region, and more pressure on our waterbodies from the effects of climate change.

Local resident Bruce Kessler submitted the winning name SoundGuardian during a “Name the Vessel” contest late last year. The moniker, which cleverly links the vessel’s serious water quality responsibilities to the region’s rock music roots, emerged as a clear winner during a public vote in January.

Kessler received a commemorative plaque, T-shirt and a tour of the SoundGuardian.

Delivered on time and on budget by King County project managers and Kvichak Marine in Ballard, the $2.2 million SoundGuardian will be cleaner, more efficient and safer to operate in rough waters than The Liberty – the 40-year-old charter fishing boat that was converted into a research vessel and in need of extensive work.IMG_0493IMG_0485

In addition to supporting our work to sample and test water quality and the health of the
marine and freshwater habitats, the SoundGuardian is also capable of quicker response to spills and other environmental emergencies that could include illegal dumping, toxic algae blooms, fish kills and beach erosion.

King County made the decision to purchase a new vessel after careful evaluation and financial assessment of other options that included upgrades and repairs to The Liberty, renting a vessel, or sharing a vessel with another public agency.

Learn more about the King County Environmental Lab and its important work.