Coast Guard responds to multiple incidents

SEATTLE – The Coast Guard and Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) continue response efforts in several incidents this week along the Washington coastline.

The first incident occurred Monday evening when the 69-foot fishing vessel Haeshin struck a jetty near Westport, Wash. The Coast Guard rescued three crew members before the vessel sank in the navigation channel in 30 feet of water.

Early reports indicated the vessel’s tanks contained at least 540 gallons of diesel when it sank. Attempts to remove fuel from the boat Tuesday and Wednesday were unsuccessful due to strong currents, ocean swells and poor visibility for salvage divers.

A state Dept. of Fish and Wildlife vessel, the G.H. Corliss, used its sonar technology Wednesday and today to try to find the sunken boat. At this time, the Haeshin is believed to have drifted from its last known location and has been lost in deep water. A work boat from the Coast Guard Cutter Fir is continuing the search for the sunken vessel. No diesel fuel or sheens have been reported.

The crabbing vessel Anna Marie became grounded on the north end of Copalis Beach in the early hours Wednesday morning. None of the four crew members reported injuries and remain on board.

The 78-foot vessel is known to be carrying 2000 gallons of fuel and approximately 200 gallons of other petroleum products. The vessel is not taking on water, and no fuel is leaking.

Attempts to remove the Anna Marie from the beach during high tide Wednesday and today were unsuccessful. The vessel’s owners have hired a salvage company to pull the boat off the beach using tugs and helicopters during today’s high tide.

The Griffiths-Priday State Park on the Copalis River is closed to the public until further notice to accommodate equipment needed for the removal efforts.

Monitoring and salvage efforts for both vessels have been coordinated between Coast Guard Sector Portland and Ecology. Other agencies and parties involved in coordinating the effort include: Washington State Parks & Recreation Commission, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, Quinault Nation, Olympic Marine Sanctuary, National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration and Department of Interior.

A third incident involved the tugboat Joe Foss. The tug, that was carrying 1800 gallons of diesel fuel onboard, reported taking on water from its location 10 miles south and 15 miles west of Neah Bay, Wash. Coast Guard Station Quilayute River sent two 47-foot motor lifeboats to escort the tug safely into La Push, Wash., and the tugboat Gladiator was called in to assist.

The crew of the Joe Foss made repairs and got back underway but ran into further trouble Wednesday. The vessel sank in 210 feet of water off the Oregon coast near Tillamook. All three crew members were rescued by the fishing vessel Kilchis before the tug sank. The crew were then transferred to a 47-foot motor lifeboat from Coast Guard Station Tillamook Bay. The tug had 1300 gallons of fuel onboard when it went down. A Coast Guard overflight did not reveal signs of debris or sheen.

“The time and effort spent training with our local, state and tribal partner agencies allows us to better respond to these types of situations,” said Lt. Zeke Lyons, Coast Guard Sector Portland’s Incident Management Branch Chief.

Events such as these emphasize the importance of a strong, coordinated response from state and federal agencies,” said Jim Sachet, Ecology’s regional spills response manager. “We are keenly aware of how quickly an incident can turn into a major environmental disaster.”

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