State exploring ways to raise sunken boat at West Bay Marina

Ecology working with West Bay Marina to remove large ex-Coast Guard ‘crash boat’ from water

jpawloski@theolympian.comNovember 7, 2013 

The Ruth Louise sank at Olympia’s West Bay Marina overnight Sunday. Crews responded to contain leaking fuel.

JEREMY PAWLOSKI/STAFF WRITER

The Ruth Louise, a more-than-80-foot-long wooden-hulled vessel, was still sitting at the bottom of the Sound near a slip at West Bay Marina on Tuesday after it sank unexpectedly the morning of Oct. 21.

Now, state agencies, including the state Department of Ecology and the state Department of Natural Resources, are working with the West Bay Marina’s owner and management to try to come up with a solution to raise it and tow it away.

“We don’t want to see that vessel lying on the bottom,” said DNR spokeswoman Toni Droscher. DNR is the manager of state-owned aquatic lands that it leases to marina owners across the state, including the West Bay Marina.

Last week, a dive team brought in by the U.S. Coast Guard tried to lift the vessel with a crane before realizing that the boat could not be raised without it splitting and cracking apart, Jim Sachet, supervisor for DOE’s spill response team, said Monday.

Members of the dive team also removed oil, batteries and other materials from the boat that might be a pollution threat. About 460 gallons of diesel fuel were safely removed from the boat by the dive team, Sachet said. There is an oil-containment boom around the vessel, and Ecology officials have determined that no marine wildlife have been injured or killed by whatever oil has already leaked from the vessel, he added.

Exactly what caused the Ruth Louise to sink is still undetermined, Sachet added.

On Tuesday, West Bay Marina General Manager Neil Falkenburg confirmed that the owner of the Ruth Louise is unable to pay for removing the boat from the Sound.

Sachet said the operation is “not going to be inexpensive or easy.”

DNR spokeswoman Droscher said “the owner of the vessel is the first party that’s responsible for taking care of a vessel in this situation.”.

The Department of Ecology has identified the owner of the Ruth Louise as Christopher Roy of Yelm.

“We’re working with the marina owner to explore several options,” Droscher said Tuesday.

Falkenburg said one option is hiring a heavy civil marine contractor from Tacoma to use a large crane to pick up the boat in two pieces. Falkenburg said the marine contractor would be coming to Olympia in the next two weeks for a dredging project at the Port of Olympia.

The Ruth Louise was originally a Coast Guard “crash boat” from the 1940s, Falkenburg said. Falkenburg confirmed that DOE does not believe the Ruth Louise is a pollution hazard.

Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5445 jpawloski@theolympian.com

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