Work resumes to remove derelict F/V Helena Star from Hylebos Waterway

Operations resumed recently to raise and remove the F/V Helena Star, the 167-foot boat that sank in Tacoma’s Hylebos Waterway nearly 18 months ago.

Work was postponed in January due to concerns over migrating salmon, as well as the time frame required for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources to select a contractor and obtain the necessary environmental permits to remove the derelict ship. Those concerns were resolved when a contractor was selected earlier this year, and the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife lifted restrictions on in-water work last week.

A team that includes the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Washington State Department of Ecology, U.S. Coast Guard, Tacoma Fire Department, and Global Diving and Salvage is currently handling the task of raising, patching, towing, dismantling, recycling, and disposing of the vessel, which was built in the mid-1940s, arrived in Seattle in 1978 after it was seized during an at-sea marijuana bust, and was moved to Tacoma three years ago when it was purchased by new owners, according to Washington State Department of Ecology officials. A special one-time legislative appropriation to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources Derelict Vessel Removal Program is paying for the removal project.

In October, a contractor hired by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources removed the 130-foot F/V Golden West from the Hylebos Waterway. Both vessels were chained together when they began to sink on Jan. 25, 2013.

The Hylebos Waterway was listed as a Superfund site 30 years ago following the discovery of widespread contamination from more than a century of heavy industrial activity. A massive cleanup and restoration effort has been underway since 2002. Keeping derelict vessels from adding to the contamination is critical to making progress on cleanup, according to Washington State Department of Ecology officials.

More information is available online here.

Two derelict vessels -- F/V Helena Star and F/V Golden West -- were chained together at the old Mason Marine location on Tacoma's Hylebos Waterway when they began to sink on Jan. 25, 2013. (PHOTO COURTESY WASHINGTON STATE DEPARTMENT OF ECOLOGY)

Two derelict vessels — F/V Helena Star and F/V Golden West — were chained together at the old Mason Marine location on Tacoma’s Hylebos Waterway when they began to sink on Jan. 25, 2013. (PHOTO COURTESY WASHINGTON STATE DEPARTMENT OF ECOLOGY)