The recreational-use tugboat moored at eagle Harbor Marina that began sinking earlier today has hit bottom, leaving only the cabin exposed, at least until the tides come in. And now it has begun leaking diesel and lube oil.
Fire Marshal Luke Carpenter said that the boat could contain up to thousands of gallons of diesel and hundreds of gallons of lube oil, but there’s no way yet to know for sure. That’s because efforts to contact the owner have proven unfruitful. The marina manager said that the owner owes back moorage fees and may have skipped out on the boat.
The tugboat, which was built in 1915, was the first diesel-powered tug in the United States.
Fire crews arrived swiftly after the manager reported the sinking. They immediately set up an oil spill boom, encircling the boat and the boat moored next to it. Almost as soon as they were done, diesel oil appeared on the surface of the water. Carpenter said that would eventually evaporate. But the lube oil is a different matter. It must be removed.
The boom contained most of the oil, but by about 11 a.m., a sheen of diesel soon began appearing on the other side of the pier and the yellow boom. The tug had wedged below the pier so oil was leaking straight up to the surface on the other side. Firefighters began deploying a second boom to contain the oil there as well.
These measures were intended to contain the problem until the Coast Guard, which was taking the ferry over, could arrive. Carpenter said the Coast Guard had contracted an independent commercial salvor to help with the recovery of the boat. They will send in a diver to plug up the vents through which the oil is leaking.
Firefighters also distributed sorbent pads across the surface to help absorb some of the oil.
The cement pier was tipped up at an angle due to the weight of the tug, and one of the metal cleats had been ripped off.
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Photos by Sarah Lane.