A sunken Sitka tugboat will be hoisted to the surface on Thursday, June 8th.
The Powhatan, a decommissioned tugboat, sank at its dock on April 19th and remains underwater in Starrigavan Bay. The cause of the sinking is still under investigation.
The tug’s owner, Samson Tug and Barge Company, has contracted Alaska Commercial Divers and Pacific Pile & Marine to raise and dispose of the 81-foot vessel.
The Salvation, a wreck removal barge, arrived on Saturday. Using a heavy lift crane, it will raise the Powhatan out of the water and lower it onto a deck barge for transport. Three assistant tugs and the Neka Bay, an oil spill response vessel with skimming capabilities, will also be on scene to provide back-up.
The public boat launch will remain open, but there will be a no-wake zone during hoisting operations. The Coast Guard Auxiliary in Sitka will also assist in directing boaters away from the area.
In the 50 days since the Powhatan has been underwater, over 6,800 gallons of oil mixed with water has been recovered. The DEC says that the initial estimates of only 340 gallons of oil on board were in error. The full amount of the oil release is unknown.
Deflection boom lines Starrigavan Beach and a shellfish advisory remains in effect. The Southeast Alaska Tribal Ocean Research group is also discouraging locals from digging for clams until further notice. Samples from Starrigavan Beach show elevated levels of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning toxins. The state situation report says those toxins are unrelated to the oil spill.