COAST GUARD, SEATTLE -- The fishing vessel Aleutian Isle was successfully lifted to the surface Saturday afternoon, September 17, 2022 with operations ended later that night. The vessel sank August 13 near Sunset Point on San Juan Island ending up at a depth of 200 feet.
Crews raise the Aleutian Isle September 17, 2022. Canada Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans photo.
After surfacing, crews began the complicated task of dewatering and removing fuel. Crews partially dewatered the vessel and removed approximately 775 gallons of oily-water mixture where it currently rests floating with assistance from the barge DB-24.
Crews were unable to safely access all spaces and completely dewater the vessel. Consequently, the vessel’s weight exceeded the safe workload for the existing recovery plan. The unified command is reevaluating the best path forward.
“Raising the vessel to the surface is certainly a success, but the complexity of this operation continues to challenge our team,” said U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Kira Moody, incident command. “Lifting the boat was a critical first step to minimize the ongoing pollution risk. The next step will likely involve relocating the crane barge to a more sheltered location where we can fully secure the boat with far less risk to our divers and crew and better protect the environment from any lingering pollution risk.
Continuing to lift the vessel in its current position would jeopardize the safety of crews who need access to the starboard side fuel tanks and internal spaces to continue dewatering and remove fuel to lessen the vessel’s weight.
Photo of crane taken September 6 at low slack tide. (about 9:15 am) Photo by Brad Pillow
The onsite crane can lift the current weight of the boat, but the existing configuration of the rigging places too much stress on the vessel’s structure, which could cause it to break and likely release remaining fuel onboard.
Although the lifting operation is postponed, pollution mitigation strategies have been effective. As expected, sheening was visible while the vessel was lifted to the surface, and responders were able to boom sheening that was containable. Estimates to determine the amount of fuel released are still in-progress, but overflight observations keep it within expected amounts.
Wildlife and pollution mitigation teams were mobilized and successfully deterred birds from sheening during lift operations. Teams continue to actively monitor sheening, location of marine mammals, birds and impacts to shorelines.
Recovery operations are estimated to resume in the next day or two. The unified command is reassessing the developing situation and re-evaluating the best options moving forward.
Air quality monitoring and protective booming will remain in place until recovery operations conclude. Over the course of the response, there have been no levels of concern despite the smell of fuel in some locations.
If the public sees uncontained sheening, please call the National Response Center at: 800-424-8802. If you encounter oiled wildlife, please contact 800-22-BIRDS.
A safety zone of 1,000 yards remains in place around the operations.
An incident-specific web page has been created by the Washington Department of Ecology. Additional photos of the response can be found on Flickr. Developing updates will also be posted periodically on the U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Northwest social media accounts listed below.
- Sept 22: Aleutian Isle no longer significant threat to environment in the San Juan Islands
- Sept. 21 Update: Aleutian Isle on barge, 40 days after sinking to 200-foot depth
- Sept. 20 Aleutian Isle Update: Vessel moved to shallower Mitchell Bay, dewatering and rerigging underway
- Aleutian Isle successfully raised to surface; no whales in area
- Lifting of the Aleutian Isle underway
- UPDATE 9: Final preparations underway for lifting fishing vessel Aleutian Isle
- Sept. 12 Update: Aleutian Isle recovery efforts
- Sept 9 Update: Rigging Aleutian Isle for lift will take a few more days
- Sept. 4 Update Aleutian Isle: Wreck cleared of entanglements; rigging begun
- Sept. 2 Aleutian Isle Update: All valves and vents closed off by divers
- Sept. 1: Divers removing netting from wreck of Aleutian Isle
- Aleutian Isle lying on starboard side 200 ft down; TFR extended to Oct. 15
- Boaters asked to abide by safety zone restrictions near wreck site
- Aleutian Isle incident: Equipment on site, recovery will take 10 days once started
- U.S. and Canadian crews conduct transboundary whale deterrents drill
- August 25 Update: No sheen observed
- UPDATE #7: Efforts to bring sunken fishing boat up expected to begin Friday
- IOSA survey to gauge potential IOSA responder availability
- County Council met with response team last week; recording available
- Update 6: Specialized diving equipment will take a few days to arrive
- Coast Guard plans to remove entire FV Aleutian Isle from ocean floor
- 10 years ago, SeaDoc Society created a plan used today to keep orcas out of an oil spill
- Coast Guard Update 4: No marine, terrestrial, or airborne wildlife appear to have been affected
- Coast Guard Update 3: Depth of sunken boat increases difficulty for divers, ROV brought in, nets recovered
- Coast Guard Monday evening Update: Boat now in 200 ft of water
- Coast Guard, partner agencies respond to pollution incident after fishing vessel sinks off San Juan Island
- August 13: An "epic" encounter with J, K, and L pods
- Coast Guard Update: Divers on scene assessing possible defueling of sunken fishing boat
- Sunday evening update from Coast Guard about sunken fishing boat
- Opportunity lost
- San Juan County's view of diesel/oil spill situation
- Hotline to report sighting of oiled wildlife - 1-800-22-BIRDS.
- Coast Guard update on diesel/oil spill off of San Juan Island
- Diesel/oil spill off Sunset Point west side of San Juan Island