Sunken tug refloated, removed from Alaska channel

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

(JUNEAU, Alaska) — The tug Challenger has made its way to A.J. Dock.

The salvage team dewatered and floated the sunken tug on Tuesday and completed the "dead ship tow" to Juneau’s A.J. Dock.

After shifting the tug to shallower water in Gastineau Channel, the lowering tide exposed more freeboard as the keel rested on the bottom. Divers were able to then use dewatering pumps and make necessary patches and repairs throughout the night. Once the tug Challenger was confirmed to be able to safely float on its own, the Brightwater crane barge was able to slack the hoisting slings and release.

The tug Norman O then completed what is called a “dead ship tow” by connecting to the side of the tug Challenger and transiting to Juneau’s A.J. Dock. A safety zone was established and enforced by Coast Guard Station Juneau to ensure the safety of the public boating community as well as the success of the dead ship tow. 

“We are very pleased to see today’s positive results and look forward to continued progress in cleaning the tug Challenger at the A. J. Dock,” said Cmdr. Patrick Hilbert, incident commander. “We could not have had this success without the outstanding cooperation between our contractors and federal, state, local and tribal partners supporting the removal operations.”

During the next phase, tug Challenger will be thoroughly assessed for any remaining oil or hazardous materials. They will then be removed from the vessel and disposed of in accordance with all applicable federal and state regulations.

For more information on the tug Challenger removal, contact the Joint Information Center at 907-463-2835, or visit the Sector Juneau Facebook page at

By Professional Mariner Staff