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Work begins to get old tugboat ready for towing

Divers from Global Diving & Salvage, Inc. will start preparing the derelict tugboat "Chickamauga" for towing from Eagle Harbor Thursday, officials with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources announced.

A tug is scheduled to arrive early Friday morning to tow the vessel to Boat Haven Marina in Port Townsend.

The 100-year-old wood tugboat sank while moored at the Eagle Harbor Marina on Oct. 2.

To safeguard against additional oil escaping into the marine environment, officials said the vessel has been surrounded by a containment boom and cleanup pads.

“Washington’s waterways host a biologically diverse ecosystem that supports a fish and shellfish industry worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Washington’s economy,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “When vessels are abandoned, it endangers vital habitat and puts the financial burden of cleanup on Washington’s taxpayers.”

Thursday’s operations will involve setting up pump stations and securing the rudder and wheel.

The tug is scheduled to arrive at approximately 6 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 31, to tow the vessel to Port Townsend. Officials said the voyage is expected to be completed in one day.

DNR took custody of the "Chickamauga" on Jan. 16 after the owner failed to remove the vessel, the day after the state Attorney General’s office filed criminal charges against the owner.

By law, the owner of the vessel has until Feb.18 to appeal DNR’s decision to take custody of the vessel.

If no appeal is filed, DNR may put out a bid for dismantling and disposing of the vessel.

In the meantime, DNR is also conducting a cultural resource review to assess the vessel’s historical significance, officials said.

If a museum or historical preservation organization is interested in the vessel, they may contact DNR for more information at dvrp@dnr.wa.gov.

 

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