May 7 update on the F/V CHIEF JOSEPH sinking

Submitted by the San Juan Department of Emergency Management

Update #3 on the F/V CHIEF JOSEPH sinking on the west side of Henry Island:

After a successful defueling of diesel tanks from the F/V Chief Joseph on May 4, the United States Coast Guard, the Washington Department of Ecology, and the San Juan County Department of Emergency Management are now overseeing preparations to raise the sunken fishing vessel, currently lying at a depth of 60 feet off the west side of Henry Island.

Divers from Global Diving and Salvage have been contracted to lift the vessel and a crane barge is currently en route to the scene to join a dive team already on site. The vessel lift is currently expected to begin on Thursday, May 9. We ask people to stay out of the area while the lift is in progress, for the safety of both responders and the public.

After the Chief Joseph is raised, it will be transported by barge to Anacortes, where the Washington Department of Natural Resources’ Derelict Vessel Program will take custody. As always, there are a number of variables that can impact the success and timing of the operation, including weather, shifting of the vessel location, currents, or logistical and operational challenges.

Given the prior removal of fuel, the potential future pollution risks from the operation are expected to be minimal. However, wildlife and spill responders will be on stand-by during the lift, should there be any unanticipated impacts.

A Coast Guard drone team has been regularly flying the site and has not identified any active pollution impacts.

With luck, the next update to the community will report the successful recovery, transport, and eventually disposal of the vessel