Friday, April 17, 2009

Slow going on trawler rescue

The trawler Mar-Gun as she appeared April 11. USCG photo

An update from state pollution regulators says the soonest a salvage crew might recover the beached Bering Sea trawler Mar-Gun is April 27-28, the next high-tide window.

The 112-foot pollock boat went aground March 5 on St. George Island. All five crewmen got off safely, but extracting the boat from the beach has become a major chore.

The U.S. Coast Guard continues to investigate why the vessel grounded.

Here's part of yesterday's "situation report" from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation:

RESPONSE ACTION: Salvors conducted vessel, helicopter and fabrication operations during the past few days although poor weather prevented work on the vessel most of last week.

On board the vessel, crews continue to knock off accumulated ice as it forms on the vessel. Workers prepped and completed laying a fairlead cross-member foundation to support recovery operations on the aft deck port and starboard sides. Workers were also able to enter the shaft alley through the forward cover plate. The packing gland was tightened down, and Splash Zone (marine epoxy putty) was applied over miscellaneous fittings and holes in the bulkhead between the engine room and the shaft alley. The packing gland is a gasket system through which the propeller shaft passes through the hull. Work also continues on the inspection of the vessel double bottom tanks, and work was performed in preparation for removing the rudder from the vessel.

The salvors continue to use helicopter operations to transfer additional steel and fabricated parts to and from the vessel.

The vessel is ready to receive the blocks for the multi-part tackle system, but heavy winds and freezing spray have delayed the block and tackle installation until the weather improves.

The M/V Redeemer crew has loaded the first of three offshore anchors sets which will be needed for the recovery operations. The M/V Redeemer is currently in Dutch Harbor waiting for a favorable weather window to travel to the Mar-Gun grounding location where the M/V Redeemer will set the first anchor system.

FUTURE PLANS AND RECOMMENDATIONS: Continue operations on board the vessel and in temporary fabrication locations to prepare for vessel recovery. Set three large anchor systems in preparation for the vessel removal. The next high-tide window for the potential removal of Mar-Gun from the shore is April 27-28, 2009.

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