Efforts to remove sunken vessel near Victoria are difficult due to conditions: U.S. Coast Guard


A small fishing vessel remains underwater two weeks after it sank off the coast of San Juan Island, Washington, and the U.S. Coast Guard says removal efforts are difficult due to strong water conditions.

On Aug. 13, the Aleutian Isle sank near the U.S. island — approximately 25.6 kilometres east of Victoria.

Dumping an estimated 9,854  litres of diesel oil, sheen covered several kilometres of water and threatened marine life while sparking a joint response between U.S. and Canadian agencies.

In an interview with CHEK News, petty officer Michael Clark said that the vessel had gone further underwater and is now estimated to be between 60 to 76 metres below the surface.

Previously, the boat was only 30 to 45 metres deep.

Clark cites strong turbulence as the reason why it sank further, and adds that additional equipment was needed to ensure the safety of divers.

Several Canadian agencies have arrived at San Juan Island, including the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG), Fisheries and Oceans Canada and First Nations Partners.

In a tweet on Aug. 26, the CCG said that no fuel had made its way into Canadian waters since the initial incident. Still, it’s ready to respond if that changes.

Initial funding of $130,000 USD has now increased to $400,000 to improve removal efforts, with drones, two barges, a crane and acoustic deterrent devices being used.

An additional 457 metres of boom has also been deployed to prevent any sheen from spreading and no marine life has been affected recently, according to authorities.

Five crew members were rescued when the boat sank and no official explanation has been released as to what caused the vessel to sink.

The U.S. Coast Guard tells CHEK News that all the necessary equipment is on standby to remove the vessel.

Clark says that divers only have one or two opportunities a day to assess the boat.

If conditions are right, preparations to remove the vessel can begin, which could take several days.

Oli HerreraOli Herrera

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