ILWACO, Wash. — It won’t be cheap or easy, but Port of Ilwaco officials are getting closer to removing the Lihue II, a derelict boat that sank in the port last November.
Port officials recently approved a contract with Global Diving & Salvage to remove the boat, according to Port Manager Guy Glenn Jr. The company estimates removing and disposing of the wood-hulled 1939 tuna troller will cost about $188,000.
Coast Guard records say the Lihue is registered in Warrenton and belongs to Stuart R. Arnold. However, Glenn said a lack of clarity about who actually owned the boat was one of the complicating factors in this case.
“There were two different people. So we went through the whole process and sent documentation to both potential owners,” Glenn said. He has been working with the state Department of Natural Resources to gain legal custody of the boat and find the money to get it out of the water.
The state derelict vessel program has a fund that helps ports deal with boats like the Lihue. Glenn plans to apply to the program for 90 percent of the removal and disposal costs. The port will be responsible for paying 10 percent of the cost, or about $18,800 — “a significant amount” for the port to come up with, according to Glenn.
There could be additional costs for abatement or special waste handling, Glenn said. The amount would depend on the condition of the boat, and what types of materials were used to make it. For example, he said, some boats are covered in lead-based paints, and must be sent to special hazardous waste dumps at great expense.
According to the Department of Natural Resources website, the derelict vessel program has removed almost 600 neglected or abandoned vessels since 2002. In recent years, that has included several larger vessels that threatened the environment, or posed a navigation hazard.
Derelict vessels continue to be a persistent problem in Washington state. Sinking or sunken boats can create health, safety and environmental hazards. They also cut into the revenue of small ports by taking up slips that could be rented to paying customers.
Since Dec. 13, 2017, the program has listed 20 notices for pending custody actions. Boats stay on the list for 30 days. If the owners take no action during that period, the petitioner gains custody of the boat, and the right to use or dispose of it. The waiting period for the Lihue recently ended. No one got in touch, Glenn said.
With so many neglected and abandoned boats around the state, the derelict vessel program rarely has enough funding to meet demand. The program received about $2.5 million for the 2017 to 2019 funding period. More than $1.9 million will go toward boat removal, and the remainder will go toward enhancement of aquatic lands. As of early January, the program had spent about $175,000 and committed to spending an additional $804,000. That leaves a little under $1 million to last through 2019.
As of early January, “Vessels of Concern” — a list of boats that have already sunk or are expected to — included 148 boats. Four, including the Hero in Bay Center, are considered “Priority One Emergencies” because they pose immediate safety, health or environmental threats. The Lihue is considered a “Priority Five” vessel, meaning that it meets the definition of an abandoned or neglected vessel, but doesn’t pose any obvious threat and isn’t causing a significant economic impact.
Glenn said a lot of details are still up in the air, but Global Diving & Salvage will most likely use a crane barge to lift the boat and haul it away. He hopes it will be gone by the end of April.
“We want it out of here sooner rather than later” Glenn said. “It’s taking up two slips.”