Coast Guard gets approval to salvage Alaska tugboat

The following is the text of a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard:

(JUNEAU, Alaska) — The U.S. Coast Guard received approval for removal and destruction of tugboat Challenger under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWCPA).

An incident command will be established and operations will begin Monday, Feb. 1, to manage the removal of the tugboat that sank in Juneau’s Gastineau Channel on Sept. 12, 2015. The operation could take weeks to complete.

“Our highest priorities are safety to the environment and safety of operations and responders,” said Capt. Shannan D. Greene, federal on-scene coordinator for the tug Challenger response and the commander of Coast Guard Sector Juneau. “We will make it a priority to keep the community and stakeholders informed throughout this process.”

The Coast Guard hired divers in September to access the tug’s fuel tanks but the divers were unable to successfully access the tanks due to vessel modifications since the ship originally launched.

As built, the tug had a fuel capacity of 8,500 gallons and a lubrication oil capacity of 1,000 gallons, however, there is an unknown amount of fuel and oil on the tug that continues to sheen and discharge into the waterway. The tug is being removed to minimize the discharge of the remaining fuel and other potentially hazardous materials into the waterway and nearby environmentally sensitive areas.

By Professional Mariner Staff