Fishing boat sinks in Shoemaker Harbor


Brian O'Connor/ Wrangell Sentinel

The 38-foot fishing trawler Falcon was discovered sunk in Shoemaker Harbor Feb. 13. Officials had temporarily removed booms from the sight of the sinking as a cost-saving measure in the hopes that no oil would appear. Pending approval from the Department of Environmental Conservation, the hull will be burned.

A 38-foot fishing trawler has a potential date with fire after sinking in Shoemaker Bay earlier this month, authorities said.

Harbor users reported the Falcon had sunk on the morning of Feb. 13. The boat's Ketchikan-based owner

contacted local harbor officials shortly after they contacted the National Response Center, said harbormaster Greg Meissner. Officials aren't sure how much oil was aboard when the boat went down, but as of Monday, the vessel had been refloated and all oil and batteries had been removed, said Coast Guard Lt. Ryan Erickson

"We ended up raising the vessel to specifically remove any of the pollution and environmental hazards," he said.

The Falcon rested Monday on a nearby beach, and the

salvage costs will be determined between the borough and the boat's owner, Meissner said.

"He's in town, and he's working with us," he said. "He's not going anywhere."

Any usable, salable, or potentially hazardous metals will be removed from the wooden trawler, and – pending approval from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation – authorities plan to burn the wooden hull where it now rests.

Responding officials from the Southeast Alaska Petroleum Response Organization (SEAPRO) applied oil booms and absorbent materials shortly after the sinking Feb. 13, then removed the booms when the oil appeared to have been stopped. Authorities initially hoped the vessel contained no diesel oil, Erickson said.

However, a day or two later, more oil appeared, so the Coast Guard and SEAPRO re-established the booms, Erickson said.

"We went ahead and removed the boom more as a cost-saving measure for the taxpayers," Erickson said. "We went ahead and had that removed, only to find out that it was still leaking. It was a minor leaking of oil, only two or three drops per hour is how it was explained, but oil is oil, and we didn't want it to go anywhere."

A local contractor re-floated the ship and turned it over to harbor officials, who decided to beach it, Erickson said.

The owner estimated the amount of fuel on board the Falcon at the time of sinking as "a few hundred gallons," Meissner said.

The sinking didn't disrupt harbor operations which

typically hit a seasonal lull in January and February before the start of major commercial fishing operations in the spring.

Coast Guard officials declined to specify a cause for the sinking, Erickson said. Meissner speculated the

vessel's age may have played a role.


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