Team Spotlight: Flotilla

Flotilla crew member giving a ride to a COBI employee during a Flotilla exercise.
Each month, we will be featuring a different Bainbridge Prepares team so you can get to know them and their mission. Today’s spotlight is on the Flotilla Team led by Stuart Scadron-Wattles and Tami Allen, who is also the City’s Harbor Master.


The Emergency Flotilla gets activated by the City of Bainbridge Island (COBI) Emergency Operations in the event that Bainbridge Island has an incident that disables the island’s two major transportation corridors: The Washington State ferry and the Agate Pass Bridge. This is a likely scenario for any major earthquake/tsunami event in our area.

Allen came up with the idea to create a fleet of volunteer captains, crew, and vessels that would provide transportation for emergency staff (65 percent of whom live off island) and citizens. Thousands of off-islanders would be stranded on Bainbridge Island during a large earthquake, and many commuting Bainbridge Islanders would be stranded in Seattle and on the Kitsap Peninsula. In addition to handling these shuttle operations, Flotilla vessels will be assigned to pick up and deliver small cargo and transfer critical patients to definitive care.


Flotilla boats participating in the Cascadia Rising exercise 2022.
Flotilla boats participating in the Cascadia Rising exercise 2022.

Scadron-Wattles and Allen have been gathering boats and personnel, qualifying the personnel to volunteer (with a background check and other application procedures), and conducting trainings. The flotilla has both pleasure and commercial craft on its roster as well as many people who do not own a boat because each shuttle vessel needs to have at least two crew in addition to the captain: a Passenger Steward who handles passenger safety and ship communication tasks and a Bos’un who loads and unloads passengers using the vessel’s tender.

Flotilla members prepare on the water and off. The Flotilla asked BP founder Scott James to lead a tabletop exercise on a flotilla event. Tabletops begin with a presented scenario and a set of questions for each section of the scenario. The people at the tabletop exercise represented the flotilla captains, crew, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) ground transportation, and Flotilla Command, which includes resources, logistics, and communications. They talked through the scenario carefully to examine how best to prepare for the shuttle operation.

After the exercise, the team’s Kitsap shuttle operations were first tested with two boats and six passengers. They   were then taken to scale with an 18-passenger round-trip load that included connecting with the CERT ground transportation team.


During Cascadia Rising 2022, a four-day, multistate event, COBI Emergency Operations invited the Emergency Flotilla to take one day to bring the Kitsap Shuttle Operation up to scale and do a proof-of-concept for the cargo operation, picking up materials in Port Orchard that had been ordered by the Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management and delivering them to COBI via Eagle Harbor.


Flotilla Command coordinating vessels during Cascadia Rising 2022 (l to r: Tyler Heinemann, Tami Allen, Marsha Cutting)
Flotilla Command coordinating vessels during Cascadia Rising 2022 (l to r: Tyler Heinemann, Tami Allen, Marsha Cutting)

During 2023, the Flotilla is writing up a Standard Operating Procedure for each of its operations, conducting tabletop exercises to prepare for a Critical Patient Transfer exercise, and doing smaller on-the-water exercises for training crew members in operations including passenger transfers and man overboard retrievals. The Flotilla has identified a beach in Seattle that would enable the team’s Seattle shuttle to load and unload passengers and is seeking permission to do a proof-of-concept exercise there.

Scadron-Wattles recently attended a FEMA ICS 300 class where he found himself at a table with four classmates: a North Kitsap Fire paramedic, a hazmat specialist with Washington State, a communications director from COBI, and an EMT from the Bainbridge Island Fire Department. During the introductions, the North Kitsap paramedic asked Stuart, “What’s an Emergency Flotilla?” The BIFD EMT replied: “He’s my ride.”

Allen and Scadron-Wattles say that, to their knowledge, their team’s flotilla model has never been implemented before in the United States. Although there are plenty of records of professional and recreational U.S. sailors using their own vessels to help evacuate and/or assist people during an emergency, the Bainbridge Prepares Emergency Flotilla is likely the first to organize, qualify volunteers and vessels, affiliate with an existing Emergency Management office, catalog resources, create a coordinating command structure, and prepare and train in advance of disaster.

The Flotilla has 80 vessels and 104 volunteers on its roster but is always in need of additional people and boats. Anyone interested in volunteering with the Flotilla as a sailor with a boat, a crew member, or a communications person on land is welcome to apply here. On that webpage, you’ll see videos of the Flotilla’s work. You can also send a question to co-leads Allen and Scadron-Wattles at

Featured image shows a flotilla member preparing to transport a City employee during an exercise.

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