Salvage to commence on sunken fishing vessel off San Juan Island, Washington

Salvage to commence on sunken fishing vessel off San Juan Island, Washington

Photo: Washington Department of Ecology

A multi-agency operation will soon commence to raise the wreck of a commercial fishing vessel that sank off San Juan Island in Washington State earlier this month.

The fishing vessel is the 49-foot (14.9-metre) Aleutian Isle, which sank to a depth of 200 feet (60.8 metres) west of San Juan Island in the afternoon (local time) of August 13.

All of the boat’s occupants were safely rescued. However, the incident also resulted in an oil spill as the vessel’s fuel tanks still contained 2,500 gallons (9,463 litres) of diesel at the time of the sinking.

The pollution response phase was then undertaken, and the decision was made to proceed with the raising of the wreck after responders noticed a reduction in the visible oil pollution in the area within the week following the incident.

Dive operations are ongoing in preparation for the eventual lifting of the sunken vessel with the aid of a crane and barge. The present dive effort has an estimated duration of 10 days under optimal weather conditions.

A unified command consisting of the US Coast Guard, the Washington Department of Ecology, the San Juan County Office of Emergency Management, and the Swinomish Tribe has been formed in response to the incident. Support agencies include the NOAA, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Islands’ Oil Spill Association, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

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