Sunken tug hazard to navigation on Columbia River

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

(WARRENTON, Ore.) — The Coast Guard has determined a sunken vessel in the Columbia River to be a hazard to navigation.

MDLM Diane, a 45-foot recreational tug with approximately 100 gallons of diesel aboard, sank while anchored outside the navigable channel after suffering an engine fire Oct. 31.

Upon being notified of the potentially sunken vessel, personnel from Coast Guard Sector Columbia River verified with the owner of the vessel that nobody was aboard, eliminating any search and rescue concerns. The Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund was opened to locate and remove potential pollutants from the vessel. Attempts to locate the sunken vessel were unsuccessful Saturday and Sunday by a contracted salvage team from Ballard Marine.

The Coast Guard coordinated with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which was able to search the river's bottom with scanning equipment. On Monday, the vessel was located 45 feet into the navigational channel from the Oregon side. MDLM Diane is below the Bonneville Dam south of Ives Island 14 feet below the waterline.

The vessel was reported missing Saturday when the crew of UTV Willamette Champion approached the last known position of MDLM Diane to conduct a dead-ship tow to Scappoose, Ore. The crew noticed and reported a scattered rainbow sheen, debris field and a folded life raft near river mile marker 140 to Coast Guard watch standers.  An urgent marine information broadcast announcing a potential hazard to navigation has been aired regularly over VHF FM marine radio.

MDLM Diane's owner is the responsible party and is responsible for salvage. In the event the responsible party is unable to salvage the vessel, the hazard to navigation determination provides a means to fund the removal of the vessel from the navigational channel. The OSLTF also will remain open to fund the cleanup of any pollution concerns related to the sunken vessel.

By Professional Mariner Staff