UPDATE 5: Unified Command continues response to pollution incident off San Juan Island 

united states coast guard 

News Release  

U.S. Coast Guard 13th District Pacific Northwest
Contact: 13th District Public Affairs
Office: (206) 220-7237
After Hours: (206) 251-3237
13th District online newsroom

UPDATE 5: Unified Command continues response to pollution incident off San Juan Island 

SEATTLE — The Unified Command continues its coordinated response Thursday following the sinking of a commercial fishing vessel resulting in a pollution incident west of San Juan Island, Washington.

With the response operation in its sixth day, crews continue to face challenges accessing the vessel.

When side scan radar initially located the vessel at 100 feet of depth on the evening of the incident, specialized equipment began arriving the next day to support dives to this depth.

One of the constant challenges affecting the divers is the strong currents in the Haro Strait, creating unsafe conditions and difficulty in accessing the wreck. The dive teams must wait for the apex of either high tide or low tide, also known as ‘slack tide,’ before entering the water.

By Monday, equipment had arrived and divers were on scene. An initial dive took place where a significant amount of netting was observed at a depth of roughly 140 feet. This netting was considered an entanglement hazard – both for marine life and divers – and had to be removed before the team could access the boat to get a full picture of the situation.

When this netting was removed, divers found the wreck had shifted from its original location to a depth of over 200 feet. Dives at this new depth now require additional equipment not readily available for the safety of those involved and the success of the operation.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, surface and dive crews worked diligently to remove more netting which ultimately resulted in the successful deployment of a Coast Guard-owned Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) which gave responders their first clear view of the F/V Aleutian Isle since it sank Saturday.

Having successfully removed a majority of the netting hazard and getting a visual perspective of the wreck, the dive team departed Wednesday afternoon to retrieve more specialized equipment designed for dive operations at depths greater than 200 feet.

The Unified Command and industry experts are moving forward with haste to commence operations to eliminate any further pollution risk. Sheening continues to be negligible and protective booming will remain in place over the weekend.

Qualified personnel will continue to monitor pollution from the wreckage and the locations of protected marine species. Booming and equipment will be adjusted to protect ecologically sensitive areas while acoustic deterrence teams and assets are currently staged for use as needed.

The Unified Command consists of the U.S. Coast Guard, Washington State Department of Ecology, San Juan Office of Emergency Management, and the Swinomish Tribe.

An incident-specific webpage 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.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/USCGPNW 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/USCGPacificNW 
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/uscgpacificnw/