- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 6, 2017

SITKA, Alaska (AP) - Officials are preparing to raise a sunken 81-foot (25-meter) tugboat in Sitka’s harbor.

A crane barge arrived from Seattle over the weekend, and divers are going to work over the week to prepare to lift the Powhatan, which sank April 19.

Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Supervisor Jay Willimon said the undertaking is expected to take 10 days.

Within one day after the tug sank, it slid off an underwater ledge to a resting place 1,500 feet (457 meters) offshore at a depth of 160 to 180 feet (49 to 55 meters).

Willimon said the plan is to hoist the boat, which has been out of service since 2006, on a three-inch (8-centimeter) chain that will run under the boat’s hull.

“The plan right now is to lift the tug, put it on the dock barge and haul it out of there,” Willimon said. “The intention right now is to scrap the boat.”

Willimon said the lift is scheduled to start Thursday.

The Coast Guard said Samson Tug and Barge, where the boat sank, has contracted with Southeast Alaska Petroleum Resource Organization for pollution recovery and with Alaska Commercial Divers to plug vents and survey the vessel where it lies on the bottom, the Daily Sitka Sentinel reported (https://bit.ly/2rHuvhM ).

Since the sinking, an estimated 400 gallons of “mixed product” has been released from the sunken tug.

The Coast Guard officials said test samples of mussels, clams, mud and sediment in Starrigavan Bay have been collected for further environmental testing.

The Marine Safety Detachment office will be enforcing the safety zone during the operation to limit disruptions of dive operations and the lift, Willimon said. He asks that boaters stay clear of the area.

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