Salvage plan approved for 1,000 foot vessel that sank while docking in Lake Superior port

DULUTH, MINN. – The U.S. Coast Guard, and the Department of Natural Resources in the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin, have approved the salvage plan for the motor vessel Walter J. McCarthy Jr.

The 1,000-foot vessel, operated by the American Steamship Company, struck a submerged object, Monday, while backing into Hallet Dock #8, in Superior, Wisconsin.

The object punctured the stern causing flooding in the engine room.

American Steamship requested to de-ballast and re-float the vessel as quickly as possible to ensure freezing temperatures do not cause structural damage.

De-ballasting involves removing water in designated tanks to help stabilize the vessel.

The vessel will utilize shore power to operate internal and external pumps.

Engineers, involved in the salvage, believe it will take two to three days to complete the de-ballasting.

Once re-floated, an evaluation of the damage will begin.

The plan includes repairing the damage and properly disposing the remaining water at a waste treatment facility.

The salvage plan does not require divers; however they may be used in future operations.

Approximately 450 gallons of miscellaneous oils have been removed from the flooded engine room.

Adjacent tanks, engines and generators contain an additional 2,500-3,000 gallons of oil and fuel, but pose no threat for release.

EMR, Inc. has been hired to act as the vessel’s pollution control company and will monitor clean up efforts in conjunction with local Coast Guard officials.

Water samples were collected, Tuesday, from both inside and outside the vessel and tested to determine quantity and type of pollutants in the water.

Results were passed to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on Tuesday afternoon.

Wisconsin DNR issued a permit to allow for release of lake water trapped within the engine room.

All levels in the initial tests met Wisconsin thresholds for legal release.

Throughout salvaging, water samples will be taken to ensure environmental impact is minimal.

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