Emergency boom was initially placed around the wreck by the Coast Guard after it sank Saturday, but later swapped out with boom deployed by contractors Global Diving & Salvage and Southeast Alaska Lighterage.
Chief Petty Officer Hugo Gaytan of Sector Juneau’s Incident Management Division says the contractors examined the interior of the vessel, and removed any potential sources of pollution.
“We had a diver from Global go down and basically walk the decks, go through every room, go through all the spaces on the boat to identify any of the hazards,” Gaytan says.
Some of the items included a propane tank, a drum of corrosive material, paint cans and gallons of lube oil.
“One by one, they pulled them out,” he says.
“They went around and looked at the tanks,” Gaytan says. “They cracked open the seal to see if any fuel would come out. If they did find fuel, they would close it back up and go get a hose with an attachment, and hook it up to the tanks to pump the fuel out.”
Coast Guard crews that initially responded to the sinking on Saturday reported a light sheen streaming away from the wreck, but none of the material was considered recoverable.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration hydrographic survey vessel Fairweather happened to be making a Juneau port call for shore leave. It was on its way to Craig after recent surveys off Barrow.
“What we will definitely be doing with that is putting out a publication Notice to Mariners as well as Local Notice to Mariners to just let everybody know that the chart isn’t necessarily accurate there anymore,” says Forney. “There’s a vessel sitting on the bottom.”
Images and data from the scans were passed on to the Coast Guard as part of their investigation.
Forney says the Challenger is resting in about 28 feet of water on the western side of the channel across from downtown Juneau’s Harris and Aurora boat harbors. The bottom slopes gently along that side of the channel before it drops off sharply toward the center.
The Coast Guard says they were able to contact the current owner of the Challenger. He has been directed to remove the vessel from tidelands and submerged lands, but it’s unclear if and when that will occur.