Coast Guard reminds harbor users of snow load

USCG Photo by MSU Valdez

VALDEZ, Alaska – The Coast Guard reminds harbor users to remove excess snow from moored vessels to prevent sinkings and the resulting cleanups this winter.

Every year Valdez gets hit hard with snow fall. In years past, at least one boat per winter has sunk in the Valdez Small Boat Harbor due to inattention to the weight of a snow load or lack of proper maintenance.

“Each day during the winter months, the Coast Guard conducts harbor patrols to identify boats that are at risk for reduced stability and sinking,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Terry Clark, marine science technician with Marine Safety Unit Valdez. “Last year the Coast Guard worked with the Valdez Harbormaster to take immediate action to remove snow from dozens of vessels that were at imminent risk of sinking and if costs were associated with that action then those expenses are the vessel owner’s responsibility.”

Last winter two boats became a problem and sank at their berths due to inadequate snow removal. The average cost to address the resulting pollution and to refloat these boats ranged from $10,000 to $30,000 dollars. In addition, owners may face fines from the Coast Guard of up to $40,000 per day.

The Coast Guard recommends that if you have a boat in the harbor and are unable to visit it regularly or will be out of town you designate a caretaker to visit the vessel and clear the snow for you.

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