Suquamish mariner takes helm of Kingston's SoundRunner ferry

KINGSTON — Kingston’s SoundRunner passenger ferry is operating under new management after the Port of Kingston fired its ferry program manager last week.

Port commissioners decided to dismiss former manager Eric Osnes at a Monday meeting after strong winds forced the cancellation of several sailings to Seattle, commission Chair Pete DeBoer said.

DeBoer said the cancellations reinforced the commission’s position that the manager needed to live in North Kitsap to be more available in an emergency. Osnes lives in Edmonds.

“We need to have a manager that can be responsive to emergencies,” DeBoer said. “That wasn’t happening.”

Osnes was unable to relocate to North Kitsap for personal reasons according to a port news release. Osnes said he wasn’t prepared to comment on his dismissal when by phone this week.

Osnes was hired by the port in early 2010 and guided planning for the service, which launched Oct. 18.

Port Commissioners moved quickly to choose Osnes’ replacement, installing Karen Arnold of Suquamish as the new manager Monday.

DeBoer said commissioners reviewed applications already submitted for manager and captain positions in SoundRunner earlier this year. Three applicants for the manager position were no longer available, DeBoer said. Arnold was selected from a pool of applicants for captain. DeBoer and Commissioner Tom Coultas made the decision to hire Arnold at a special meeting last week, DeBoer said. Commissioner Marc Bisonnette was absent.

DeBoer said the commission drew from its existing pool of applicants because it needed to continue SoundRunner service smoothly.

“It wasn’t the sort of thing we could put on hold for a month,” DeBoer said.

Arnold was earlier hired as a part time captain for the SoundRunner service but quit before the service began to pursue other opportunities, DeBoer said.

Arnold has 30 years of experience in the maritime industry and holds a Master Unlimited license. She recently worked for Clipper Navigation and Trident Seafoods out of Seattle.

She said her immediate role is to keep SoundRunner service steady.

“My main goal is to help keep the service running and avoid cancellations,” Arnold said.

The service’s main boat, the 149-passenger Spirit of Kingston, is currently running on three of its four engines. One engine malfunctioned on an early sailing and will need to be overhauled. DeBoer said the port is still negotiating with the warrantee company to determine when Spirit will be hauled out for repair.

SoundRunner makes four round-trips daily from Kingston to Colman Dock in Seattle.

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