Coast Guard re-floats sunken tanker in Lake Huron

Jul 30, 2012

The U.S. Coast Guard says crews have salvaged a dredging barge that sank earlier this month in Lake Huron. The Associated Press reports crews re-floated the 100-foot Arthur J early this morning, and were in the process of taking it to a maintenance dock.

From the AP:

The Arthur J went down July 19 more than a mile from the Michigan shore near Lakeport, roughly 65 miles northeast of Detroit. A 38-foot tugboat that capsized at the same time was recovered earlier. The barge recovery operation stalled last week because of strong winds and choppy waters.

No one was hurt when the two vessels went down nearly six miles north of the entrance to the St. Clair River. Some fuel escaped after the accident, leaving a sheen on the water that reached land.

In a statement, the Coast Guard said salvage crews resumed dive operations Sunday at about 9 a.m. and successfully re-floated the dredge by using compressors to blow air into watertight compartments:

The calm sea state and calm winds Sunday and Monday were a marked improvement and allowed for the crews to safely work through the night to successfully re-float the dredge and remove it from the site for further cleanup and repairs.

“Safety of the salvage crews, divers and environmental responders has been paramount throughout the incident,” said Cmdr. Gary Koehler, incident commander for the Coast Guard, “Although challenged by adverse weather conditions and sea state throughout the week, everything came together today to execute a safe, technical and organized salvage operation.  The professionalism and cooperation from all parties involved was truly impressive and instrumental to eliminating any further threat to this pristine international waterway.”

The Coast Guard says all local area beaches are open, and cleanup crews will complete a final inspection of the beaches to make sure they meet approval by the state of Michigan and St. Clair County Health Department officials after the dredge and containment boom are cleared from the site.