Crews make 2nd attempt to remove sinking barge from Vancouver Island marina
PORT MCNEILL -- Salvage crews are back in the waters off Port McNeill Tuesday, starting their second attempt to remove a barge that sank near the community's marina on Christmas Eve.
The 25-metre crew barge, the "Alaska Plaza," was one of two vessels that ran into problems on Dec. 24. One ship sank and the other ran into the marina's breakwater.
Both vessels are owned by the Croman Corporation out of White City, Oregon. The company's chief financial officer, Mitch Hanan, is hoping the barge will be removed soon.
"We want to make sure that we safely get it up there and minimize any environmental impact to the community," he said. "I know that we've had some impact already because it's sitting in the way and we just want to get it up and removed."
Divers are cutting the barge apart so it can be lifted in pieces, as opposed to a single unit, which was the original plan back in January. Last month, crews successfully raised the barge only to have it re-sink.
"What we're doing is having our dive crews at the moment lighten up the super-structure, basically to get rid of the majority of the barge so that we're able to lighten it enough for the tugs to lift it and get it re-floated," said salvage operation manager Bill Coltart.
Numerous agencies are working in a coordinated effort on what's being considered a complicated operation.
"All these people come together to form a unified command in sort of an integrated fashion, working alongside the owner to really ensure that it's done to that Canadian standard," said Jeff Brady, superintendent of environmental response for the Canadian Coast Guard.
Crews are expected to be in Port McNeill for the next two weeks, but the project is dependant upon the weather.
"It's the middle of February and it's always challenging work conditions," said Coltart. "We get the southeast wind (coming) in the harbour so I'm sure we're expecting to run into some weather days where it's not safe to put divers into the water."
A crane will be brought in to remove the larger pieces within the next few days.