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Seattle Times photographers offer a glimpse into what inspires their best visual reporting.

February 23, 2014 at 12:05 PM

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Tugboats pull the world into Puget Sound


BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Capt. Greg Phillips steers the Wedell Foss into position to dock a cargo ship at the Port of Tacoma. A pilot onboard the ship communicates with the tug captains via radio, telling them when to pull and push.

Sunday's Pacific NW Magazine features "Tugboats are the little engines that can," a peek into the powers that bring commerce from all over the world into our region by staff writer Susan Kelleher and photos by Bettina Hansen.



BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES

A "roll-on/roll-off" cargo ship from Alaska cuts a familiar sight as it comes around Browns Point into the Port of Tacoma.

BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Chief engineer Kevin Dreitlein checks the mechanics of the Wedell Foss. Tugboat engines are so powerful they can rip open a ship's hull with a single misguided pull by the captain.

BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Mate Pete Roney throws out a line to tie up the Wedell Foss at Smith Cove in Elliott Bay.

BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES

His arms adorned with nautical tattoos, Capt. Greg Phillips steers the Wedell Foss tugboat. Phillips, 42, has worked on tugs since he was a teenager.

BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Late-afternoon light reflects off the water onto the hull of the M.V. North Star, a "roll-on/roll-off" cargo ship that travels between Alaska and Tacoma. Bringing the ship to dock required two tugboats and more than an hour's time.

BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES

At the Port of Seattle, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer Keevin Simon inspects a container of household goods from Singapore after it was flagged for review. All incoming cargo is scanned for radiation in a process designed to keep cargo moving as quickly as possible.

BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer Dan Koengeter inspects the beady eyes of Chinese-made stuffed animals that will likely be flagged for consumer safety as a choking hazard. "My kids would love these," he says. The agency routinely targets cargo for closer inspection, but tries to minimize delay for the ships that bring it to port.

BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Some of the largest container ships in the world call on the Seattle and Tacoma ports. As ship owners chase profits, they're building even larger ships that will hold greater numbers of containers, such as the ones shown here.

Read story here.
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