The U.S. Coast Guard has hired a company to raise the tugboat that sank off Treasure Island in order to prevent it from further polluting the San Francisco Bay, according to officials.
The U.S.S. Wenonah sank at its birth on the southeast side of the island on Aug. 17, causing an oil sheen when residue from the engine leaked out of the sunken vessel.
Cleanup crews absorbed most of the oily water surrounding the vessel by the end of last week, and so far the California Department of Fish and Game has not received reports of environmental impact, the Coast Guard said.
The tug’s owner, the Historic Tugboat Education and Restoration Society, is responsible for salvaging the boat, but Coast Guard spokesman Lt. j.g Jeremy Pichette said the Coast Guard decided it was necessary to raise the vessel out of the water to prevent it from damaging surrounding ecosystems.
It therefore hired the company Global Diving and Salvage to retrieve the tug from the water.
“We need to secure the pollution threat,” Pichette said. “From there, that’s kind of where it ends on the federal funds side of things.”
The Coast Guard cleaned up the oil spill and will raise the tug with money from the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, Pichette said.
The HTERS could not be reached for comment about their plans for the boat.
Pichette said divers are currently creating a plan to raise the tugboat without releasing additional pollution into the Bay. Over the next few days, Global Diving and Salvage will get its equipment in place, but a date for the raising has not been set.
The U.S.S. Wenonah was built in 1940 and spent 33 years in service before it was decommissioned in 1974. The HTERS leases space at Pier One on Treasure Island for the Wenonah and an identical historic tugboat, the U.S.S. Nokomis.