Expert says blast needed to free shipwrecked crabber
Pulling the shipwrecked crabber Arctic Hunter off the rocks shouldn't be too much of a problem, once a rock is blown away, said Unalaska marine salvage expert Dan Magone, who plans to use high explosives carefully, so as not to kill any wildlife in the process.
Magone expects government agencies will approve his wreck removal plan, although "eyebrows have been raised about some of my methodology." Taking out the rock involves drilling holes and filling them with high explosives. "It not an unusual step to take. I've done it before in real sensitive areas like the Pribilofs where you have seals and sea lions."
Magone said Monday that removing the boat will start next week at the earliest. The vessel's fishing career is over, he said. "It's still shaped like a boat, but it's just wreckage."
Blasting the rock away is actually a very small part of the job, he said. The biggest task involves pulling the boat from the shore with heavy cables, and then sinking it. Once secured underwater, the vessel will be lifted up and moved elsewhere, he said.
The Arctic Hunter is a 102-foot long by 34-feet-wide fishing vessel. The vessel's maximum fuel capacity is 42,000 gallons. The crew estimates that approximately 12,000 gallons of diesel fuel, plus hydraulic and lubricating oil were onboard the vessel when it grounded, according to DEC.
The Resolve-Magone salvage team estimates approximately 6,000 gallons of diesel fuel and 400 gallons of hydraulic and lubricating oil have been released from the vessel. A slight sheen has been reported nearby.
The vessel was leaving Dutch Harbor when it grounded early in the morning Nov. 1. near Morris Cove in Unalaska Bay. The cause of the grounding remains under investigation, although Coast Guard spokesman Shawn Eggert said the vessel's captain fell asleep at the wheel.
All six crew members were safely evacuated from the stricken vessel, which had completed its Bristol Bay red king crab season, and was headed out to sea to retrieve pots when it ran aground.
Resolve-Magone Marine Services have secured pollution sources on the vessel including doors, hatches to engine and machinery spaces and fuel vents as conditions allow. As of Nov. 5, Resolve-Magone removed an estimated 6,000 gallons of diesel fuel from the vessel.
Resolve-Magone estimates that approximately 6,000 gallons of diesel fuel and all the hydraulic and lubricating oil has been lost from the vessel. Resolve-Magone estimated the spill volume based on what they recovered and amount of fuel and oil that was reported by the vessel crew. It is assumed at this point, given the tank location, that the tank was damaged and compromised when the vessel grounded. The contents of this tank has been included in the spill volume estimate.
Jim Paulin can be reached at email@example.com