Coast Guard investigating oil sheen near Lena Point

JUNEAU, Alaska – The Coast Guard and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation coordinated efforts with Southeast Alaska Lighterage and Global Offshore Divers to use a Remotely Operated Vehicle to evaluate possible damage to the historic vessel Princess Kathleen near Lena Point Wednesday and Thursday.

The Coast Guard has responded to several reports of minor oil sheens in the vicinity of Lena Point in the last six months but the amount of product released has been unrecoverable.

Coast Guard Sector Juneau investigators identified the source of the sheen as the Princess Kathleen, one of Southeast Alaska’s historic shipwrecks.

Bow of Princess Kathleen Above Water. Alaska State Library - Historical Collections

The 369-foot Princess Kathleen, a Canadian Pacific Railroad vessel built in 1925, went aground and sank near Lena Point in 1952 carrying an estimated 155,000 gallons of fuel. The Princess Kathleen now rests on a slope in 80 to 140 feet of water and continues to periodically cause small unrecoverable oil sheens in the area.

“Based on the recent reports of a sheen from the Princess Kathleen and our concern for the environment, the Coast Guard felt diving on the vessel to determine its actual condition was necessary,” said Capt. Melissa Bert, Sector Juneau Commander. “Any action we take with regard to this vessel will be done in conjunction with our state and local partners and balance our concern for the environment and its historical significance.”

The Coast Guard opened the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund Friday to fund the remote survey of the sunken vessel.

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