USCG gives update on vessel aground near Wrangell

    Rescue and assistance team members from the Coast Guard Cutter Bailey Barco assess the 52-foot recreational vessel Heather Anne near marker 16 in the Wrangell Narrows.

    Wrangell, Alaska (KINY) - Coast Guard officials have provided an update in regard to the Heather Anne, Wednesday, after Alaska Department of Natural Resource representatives issued a Letter of State Interest to the vessel owner.

    The letter was issued on July 1 and gives the owner of the vessel until July 15 to provide the state with a plan to remove the vessel and any associated solid waste from state tide and submerged lands.

    Coast Guard officials received a report June 14 that the 52-foot recreational vessel Heather Anne was aground and partially submerged near marker number 16 in the Wrangell Narrows near Mitkof Island. The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Bailey Barco arrived on scene and attempted to assist the owner to dewater and re-float the vessel, but due to flooding and strong currents, their efforts were unsuccessful.

    After conferring with the owner and representatives from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Coast Guard Sector Juneau personnel opened the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund on June 15 and contracted with Alaska Commercial Divers, Inc.

    Contractors removed all significant threats of pollution, but due to strong currents in the area, they could not refloat the vessel without added risk to Wrangell Narrows. After enough oily sludge and residue was removed from the vessel to confirm that the environmental threat had been mitigated the vessel no longer fell under Coast Guard jurisdictional, and DEC personnel advised members of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources that DEC and Coast Guard personnel in agreement that the threat of pollution had been mitigated.

    Because the Heather Anne rests on DNR owned tidelands, DNR representatives issued the Letter of State Interest to the vessel owner on July 1 based on an "Unauthorized Use of State Land, ADL 10911 – Shipwreck."

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