The 52-foot fishing vessel, Haida Lady, partially above the waterline near Sitka on March 2. Coast Guard Sector Juneau personnel received a report that the vessel sank on Feb. 26. (Photo provided by U.S. Coast Guard)

A sunken vessel has caused a diesel fuel spill in Sitka Sound.

The Coast Guard received a report on Friday (2-26-21) that there was a sheen on the water between Cobb Island and Silver Point, south of Sitka. An Air Station Sitka crew flew over the site and found the fishing vessel Haida Lady submerged surrounded by a large sheen of diesel.

According to a situation report from the Department of Environmental Conservation, the vessel owner reported 1500 gallons of diesel fuel and 55 gallons of hydraulic oil on board at the time of sinking. 

The Coast Guard hired Sitka-based Hanson Maritime to help with clean-up efforts. The company has surrounded the site with containment boom, a floating barrier that holds in fuel and oil. They’re also using sorbent boom to soak up excess oil. 

Petty Officer Brian Wereda from the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Center said there were some delays in clean-up efforts because of weather, but things are now moving forward.

“The incident is contained and now Hanson Maritime is stabilizing the vessel and trying to orientate it with divers and lift bags into an upright position to where we can remove the fuel and oil from it,” he said.

Approximately 825 gallons of diesel fuel had been removed from the vessel by Tuesday afternoon, according to the Coast Guard. Wereda said it’s unknown how much fuel was spilled, but that Hanson Maritime will continue working to clean up and contain the area. 

“The Coast Guard and state and local stakeholders will continue responding until all the threats to the environment have been removed or mitigated,” Wereda said.

No one was onboard the Haida Lady at the time of sinking, according to a Coast Guard press release. The DEC Situation Report identified possible risk to wildlife, including marine birds, Steller sea lions and whales.

Erin McKinstry is a Report for America corps member.