Happening now: Salvage crews at Beach Drive sinking scene

(EDITOR’S NOTE: WSB has been on scene continuously since 1st light; this coverage runs through the raising of the craft around 5:30; now we have a new followup under way here.)

(Photo courtesy <Colby Chesterstrong>)
9:12 AM: Three cranes are now in place off Beach Drive at the scene where a landing craft turned workboat, the Justin (file photo here), sank on Friday morning, spilling some of its fuel oil and bringing out the U.S. Coast Guard, Seattle Fire Department, state Ecology Department, and salvage crews. (Here’s our original Friday report chronicling the situation throughout Friday morning/afternoon; here’s our Friday night update.) Crews resumed work at first light as promised; our crew at the scene says that so far, there’s been a lot of positioning, in hopes the sunken vessel can be brought up as soon as possible. We’ll be covering it as the operation continues.

10:21 AM UPDATE: The salvage operation continues to proceed slowly. According to a source at the scene who didn’t want to be identified, the Justin is in about 25 feet of water, where riggings are being attached to it for a careful lift-out, but divers and underwater photography shows the water is clear – no sign of any ongoing major leak. That’s also good news along West Seattle beaches. We just talked with an interagency team that has been walking the beaches of Lincoln and Lowman Beach Parks, including U.S. Coast Guard and state Ecology Dept. reps.

They told us everything “is looking good” – no signs of oil damage to the beaches (though some of the diesel sheen was reported ashore north of Lowman yesterday) and no oiled or otherwise-harmed wildlife. A protective stretch of absorbent material is in place to protect the shore along Lowman:

The latest Coast Guard news release notes, “A Coast Guard overflight was launched at first light today and while there is still an oil sheen in the water that was released yesterday, it is very broken up and not recoverable. This oil will continue to weather, dissipate and evaporate through natural wave and wind action.” We photographed the USCG chopper:

And here’s a look at activity offshore:

12:39 PM UPDATE: To answer the most popular question from passers-by – No, it’s not out yet. The crane maneuvering continues, off and on; so does the skimming of water right alongside the barge, where the Justin went down.

2:16 PM UPDATE: It’s a painstaking process. The crane pulleys move a little here, a little there. The drama is going on beneath the surface, we’re told. Among the ever-changing cast of characters at what’s become the semi-official viewpoint on shore for this operation is someone who knows the sunken craft’s owner and quotes him as saying, as of a half-hour or so, they were working on “flipping” it. A little earlier, we caught the photo you see above, as what appeared to be soiled absorbent material was hauled out of the water – NOT indicative of a wider spill, we should note, but perhaps from the sunken craft itself.

2:33 PM: Beach Drive Blog, which is headquartered within view of the site, says they’re seeing a bit of the craft – check their updated coverage here.

3:09 PM: Progress continues. That’s our latest view.

4:19 PM UPDATE: And they’re still working on it! We’ve leaned a little more about the sunken vessel. It’s named after its operator, who is out on the barge as part of the operation. If you’re watching from shore parallel to the scene, most of what’s happening is between the big barge in the background and the crane superstructure that says “American Construction.” Intermittently, you can hear the screeching and grinding of the pulleys and other equipment involved.

5:32 PM: Finally it’s significantly visible – the wheelhouse and beyond- from where we have spent the past 10-plus hours:

It’s the red structure, with a life ring on the left.

6:21 PM: In case you have this one bookmarked – we’ve started a new story to track what happens next: find it here.

4 Replies to "Happening now: Salvage crews at Beach Drive sinking scene"

  • Rhonda Porter October 15, 2011 (10:14 am)

    Fuel slicks have moved as far north as Emma Schmitz Memorial View Point and possibly beyond.

  • Eilene Hutchinson October 15, 2011 (11:24 am)

    WSB, thank you for the ongoing coverage.

  • Tony Ercolano October 15, 2011 (6:00 pm)

    They’ve got it partially out of the water. They opened up a hatch and are feeding a number of hoses down into the hatch. Looks like they will be pumping out fuel/oil? before they raise it the rest of the way?

Sorry, comment time is over.