Limitations imposed at Coos Bay Harbor entrance

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

(WARRENTON, Ore.) — The Coast Guard captain of the port for all ports in Oregon and southern Washington announced limitations on the movement of deep-draft vessels across the Coos Bay Harbor entrance Friday, citing possible debris in the water from the commercial fishing vessel Sara Jo that capsized near the north jetty earlier this week.

Two Panamanian-flagged bulk carriers that have been affected by the closure, the 640-foot Stellar Stream II and the 656-foot Andalucian Zephyr, were notified and instructed not to transit the area until a sonar survey of the channel is conducted Monday to determine that the entrance is safe.

"The continued flow of commerce is a priority, but my foremost concern as captain of the port is to ensure the safety of all crews and vessels that come in and out of Oregon and Washington waters," said Capt. Dan Travers, captain of the port for Sector Columbia River and Sector North Bend. "I will reevaluate the closure as soon our surveys confirm the channel is clear of navigation hazards."

The announcement comes four days after the 49-foot fishing vessel Sara Jo became disabled and capsized on the Coos Bay bar, leaving two fishermen reportedly injured and one deceased. The vessel was destroyed in the incident, but Coast Guard waterway managers believe debris from the ship could threaten the safety of certain mariners transiting the area.

Although the closure only impacts deep-draft vessels, the Coast Guard urges all mariners to navigate the area with caution and keep an eye out for debris.

For updated river entrance observations and closures, visit NOAA's Western U.S. Bar Observation site.

By Professional Mariner Staff