By Larry Altose, Communications Manager, Northwest Regional Office
COUPEVILLE, Wash. – Divers made progress as they worked in very soft silt to prepare to raise the sunken fishing vessel Deep Sea from the bottom of Penn Cove, near Coupeville on Whidbey Island. The vessel continued to release small amounts of oil, which formed thin coatings on waters nearby.
A multi-agency unified command is coordinating the recovery effort. The command comprises the U.S. Coast Guard, Washington departments of Ecology (Ecology) and Natural Resources (DNR), Island County Department of Emergency Management, Global Diving & Salvage Inc. (Global) and NRC-Environmental Services (NRC-ES).
Divers for Global, working under a contract with Ecology, reported today that they soon may complete a path for a “messenger line” under the hull at the center of ship. This will enable the placing of a heavy lifting chain. They previously completed a messenger line path under the stern. Installation of the lifting chains will mark a major milestone in the preparations.
NRC-ES crews continued to tend oil-spill containment boom and to deploy oil-spill cleanup materials in response to sheen – a thin oil coating – visible in surrounding waters. Most of the sheen was too thin to remove. The on-water crews received assistance from Ecology observers who made a helicopter flight this afternoon to help track sheen.
While more than 4,500 gallons of oil products have been removed or recovered since the Deep Sea sank May 13 after a fire, an unknown quantity remains trapped on the vessel. Some of this oil floats out through small openings. Divers have plugged some of these, but accumulations of oil tend to reach new outlets. Removal of the Deep Sea will eliminate this problem and the risk of further oil releases.
The Coast Guard has established a marine safety zone on waters within 200 yards of the Deep Sea. Vessels seeking to enter that zone must request permission from the Coast Guard’s Joint Harbor Operation Center at 206-217-6001 or from on-scene patrol craft on VHF radio channel 13.
For more information, see Ecology's FV Deep Sea incident webpage.