Pacific Maritime Magazine - Marine Business for the Operations Sector

Derelict Vessels Cause Problems


Photo courtesy of US Coast Guard.

Brought under the US flag after being seized in a major drug bust back in 1978, the Friday Harbor-registered Helena Star began life in 1947 as the Dutch coaster Violette Erica, changing to Fraternite in 1950, then becoming Monica Star 1 in 1977 when it was moved to Panama.

Derelict vessels continue to be a problem along the west coast, with Washington State listing 230 alone in its waters. One of these, the former Dutch coaster Helena Star ex-Fraternite sank at its moorings on Tacoma’s Hylebos Waterway in late January, almost taking with it the nearby derelict fishing vessel Golden West ex-Chiwoo. The Tacoma Fire Department placed an oil containment boom around the two boats while the US Coast Guard and Washington State Department of Natural Resources began tracing their owners.

Fortunately, about 20,000 gallons of oil and oily water, as well as other hazardous substances, had been previously removed from the boats when they were listed as “derelicts” last year. Nevertheless, it’s expected that the cost of safely removing the vessels from the waterway will now run close to $1 million, and Washington currently only has about $200,000 in its Derelict Vessel Removal Account, an account funded by a $3 fee on boat registrations.


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