State to haul out half-sunken tug in Anacortes bay

ANACORTES — A derelict tugboat, abandoned by its owner and sinking into the mud of Fidalgo Bay since June 2000, will be removed at state expense, officials have decided.

The Port of Anacortes has taken possession of the 120-foot Enchantress, an Army tug built in 1944, and will coordinate salvage, said Connie Thoman, the port’s environmental administrator.

About 90 percent of the cost will be borne by the state Department of Natural Resources through its derelict vessel program, and the rest will be paid by the state Department of Ecology, Thoman said.

Officials were concerned about the risk of further pollution as the tug, tied to deteriorated pilings at the site of a burned-down plywood mill, breaks apart.

Officials said the vessel probably will be taken apart starting next month, lifted onto a barge piece by piece with a crane and hauled elsewhere for salvage.

Built by Minford Yacht Yard in City Island, N.Y., the tug went through a series of owners and name changes before being acquired by Richard Carnes of Sedro-Woolley.

About a month after being abandoned by Carnes, the Enchantress began sinking on July 12, 2000. Coast Guard officials said at the time there was no fuel in the tanks, so the immediate risk of pollution was considered minimal.

Carnes also abandoned a second boat, the Ronnie S., a 118-foot tuna seiner, in Anacortes the same year after leaving it tied to the Shannon Point Seafood dock in Guemes Channel. The Ronnie S. later was removed, but removal of the Enchantress became snarled in legal red tape after Carnes was shot to death the next year.

The tug became the poster child for state legislation, adopted in 2002, to streamline the process for removing derelict vessels.

The Coast Guard paid about $160,000 to remove diesel fuel, oil and other hazardous material from both vessels soon after they were abandoned.

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