Local

Recovery operation ongoing for fishing vessel that sank off San Juan Island

On Thursday, the Coast Guard gave an update on a 49-foot commercial fishing vessel that sank west of San Juan Island on Aug. 13. It was carrying around 2,500 gallons of diesel fuel and a combined 100 gallons of hydraulic fluid and lubricant oil aboard when it sank.

The Coast Guard said divers had cut away the ship’s netting to find fuel vents and to prevent entanglement during the scheduled recovery. Four valves were also secured, including valves for waste oil and hydraulic fluid.

The Aleutian Isle, which is around 200 feet down, is lying on its starboard side.

While the Aleutian Isle was reportedly leaking diesel fuel slowly when it first sank, the Coast Guard said that no visible sheen was observed on Tuesday.

A safety zone of 1,000 yards is around the site.

Crews are also monitoring for any whales or marine life in the area as measures will be used to deter their entry.

Around 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 13, Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound got a report that the Aleutian Isle was taking on water near Sunset Point and was in need of emergency assistance.

An Air Station Port Angeles MH-65 Dolphin helicopter, a Station Bellingham 45-foot response boat, and the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Swordfish (WPB-87358) all responded, the Coast Guard said.

Before they arrived, all five crew members aboard the vessel were rescued by a good Samaritan as the vessel sank.

Once all crewmembers were accounted for, the Coast Guard started a pollution survey and began response efforts with partner agencies. Around 5 p.m., a visible oil sheen covering nearly 2 miles was seen on the water.

A plan was developed to contain and recover diesel fuel in the water, remove potential pollutants from the sunken boat, and potentially salvage the wreckage. Materials were put in place to recover fuels and protect environmentally sensitive areas.