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Converted Tug Sinks at Sawmill near Wrangell

By Chris Klint, Senior Digital Producer, cklint@ktuu.com
Published On: Jan 16 2014 12:48:59 PM AKST
Updated On: Jan 16 2014 06:00:00 PM AKST
Converted Tug Sinks at Sawmill near Wrangell

Image by Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Spill Prevention and Response

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -

Federal and state agencies are responding to the site of a converted tugboat’s sinking at a sawmill near the Southeast Alaska community of Wrangell.

According to Coast Guard spokesperson Chief Petty Officer Sara Mooers, the 60-foot recreational vessel Silver Bay II sank at its moorings in 120 feet of water at the Wrangell Silver Bay facility, along Zimovia Strait. The Coast Guard was notified about the incident Tuesday afternoon around 3 p.m., but didn't arrive until Wednesday.

"There was no one aboard; there were no injuries," Mooers said. "We received a report that the owner of the vessel had gone down to the moorings and found it sunk."

Mooers says in a statement that containment boom has been placed around the ship. State officals say the ship held 3,500 gallons of diesel fuel, but it was unknown how many have spilled. According to a report from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the Silver Bay II had been tied to the dock for five years, with much of its fuel removed over time.

Divers are working to inspect the ship’s steel hull. An overflight of the area Wednesday revealed an oil sheen extending a few miles from the vessel.

“Dive operations have been placed on hold due to weather, which has delayed the salvage company’s transit and arrival time,” Mooers wrote. “Coast Guard personnel are on site and are working with the owner, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and other federal, state and local agency partners to develop a response plan.”

The cause of the sinking is currently unknown, and the Coast Guard is coordinating with DEC to develop a response plan.