Saturday, June 2, 2012

Work continues to lift vessel in Penn Cove on Sunday June 3

By Curt Hart, Communications Manager, Spills Program

Work continued Saturday June 2 to raise the 140-foot fishing vessel Deep Sea from Penn Cove, near Coupeville on Whidbey Island. Operations to lift the vessel will commence Sunday June 3.

Early tomorrow morning, the 300-foot crane barge D.B. General will join the 140-foot crane barge Oakland already in Penn Cove. The two cranes, owned by General Construction Co., will work in tandem to raise the Deep Sea.

A multi-agency unified command is coordinating the recovery effort. The command comprises the U.S. Coast Guard (Coast Guard), Washington departments of Ecology (Ecology) and Natural Resources (DNR), Island County Department of Emergency Management. Assisting are Global Diving & Salvage Inc. (Global) and NRC-Environmental Services (NRC-ES).

While more than 5,000 gallons of mixed 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.

On Saturday, state and federal responders continued to observe oil floating out through small openings in the sunken vessel. These patches are thin and unrecoverable. Most of the oil is trapped within containment boom directly above the Deep Sea. NRC-Environmental Services crews have been using absorbent materials and skimming vessels to remove the oil.

Since lifting the vessel may cause more oil to leak on Sunday, unified command will have an array of protection measures and response equipment in place including:
  • Two oil-skimming vessels and other on-water skimming equipment.
  • A King County Sheriff’s Office helicopter to conduct aerial observation and direct skimming operations.
  • 4,200 feet of oil containment and deflection boom – including protecting area shellfish resources and
  • other environmentally sensitive areas in Penn Cove.
  • 3,000 feet of absorbent boom to collect oil floating on the surface.
  • Two vacuum trucks and two tug boats.
  • Nearly a dozen work vessels from all the public agencies collaborating on the response as well as private contractors.
On Saturday June 2, about 50 local, state and federal responders and private contractors were working on removal operations – on Sunday, the number will climb to about 80 people.

During the lifting operation, volunteers from Island County’s Washington State University Beachwatchers Program will be accompanied by Coast Guard personnel and stationed along the Penn Cove shoreline to spot and report any potential oil reaching the shore. Five teams will each consist of two to three trained volunteers plus a Coast Guard representative. The teams will also notify the U.S. Coast Guard if any of the protective booming breaks loose.

The Washington State Department of Health closed all shellfish harvesting in Penn Cove on May 15. The closure will remain in effect until testing confirms shellfish from the area are safe to eat.

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:

Fishing Vessel Deep Sea Fire incident website:

Ecology Spills Program:

Ecology social media:

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