Crews raise derelict boat from Penn Cove

WHIDBEY ISLAND — The derelict fishing boat Deep Sea surfaced Sunday afternoon with the help of two cranes that pulled the 140-foot vessel from the bottom of Penn Cove.

More than 5,000 gallons of oil had been recovered since the Deep Sea sank May 13 after a fire on the boat, but an unknown quantity remained Sunday morning before the surfacing operation began.

The state Department of Health continues its ban on shellfish harvesting until testing confirms that the famous Penn Cove shellfish are safe to eat, said state Department of Ecology spokesman Larry Altose.

The Deep Sea reached the surface of the water off Coupeville about 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Altose said, with about a dozen work vessels crowding the cove at the site.

“It’s been quite an operation,” he said.

Crews pumped thousands of gallons of water out of the Deep Sea’s hull Sunday in hopes that the vessel could safely float for a tow to a shipyard, Altose said.

If the Deep Sea proves safe and stable enough, a tugboat will tow the vessel for dismantling at the Stabbert Maritime Yacht and Ship dry dock in Seattle. If the Deep Sea cannot be towed, it will be placed on a barge. Either way, the trip to Seattle is expected to take place Monday, Altose said.

Throughout Sunday, crews worked to contain oil with the help of oil- skimming boats, a King County Sheriff’s helicopter, oil containment booms, two vacuum trucks and two tug boats.

About 80 people from the U.S. Coast Guard, state departments of Ecology, Health and Natural Resources and Island County Department of Emergency Management have been working to get the Deep Sea out of Penn Cove. The cranes are owned by General Construction Co. Assisting were Global Diving &Salvage Inc., NRC-Environmental Services and Island County WSU Beachwatchers.

The Ecology Department estimated the state will spend approximately $1.5 million to remove the burned fishing vessel, Altose said. The state plans to seek reimbursement from the Coast Guard’s National Pollution Funds Center. Natural Resources will separately pay about $350,000 to break apart the vessel at a shipyard, a cost not eligible for national pollution funding.

For more information about the removal of the Deep Sea, go to tinyurl.com/DOEdeepsea.

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

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