Derelict tug puts Eagle Harbor astern; headed for Port Townsend

Crews under contract to the US Coast Guard help secure oil spill boom and sorbent pads around the Chickamauga in Eagle Harbor. Photo: WA Dept. of Ecology
Crews under contract to the US Coast Guard help secure oil spill containment boom and sorbent pads around the Chickamauga in Eagle Harbor. Photo: WA Dept. of Ecology

Early Friday morning, the derelict tugboat Chickamauga left Eagle Harbor Marina under tow to Port Townsend—perhaps its final destination.

The 100-year-old wooden vessel sank October 2 at the marina on Bainbridge Island and was raised a week later. Spill responders acted immediately to contain the estimated 300 gallons of fuel that was released during the sinking. Since then, the vessel has been surrounded by containment boom, and crews and the marina staff have been regularly monitoring the vessel.

Under the Derelict Vessel Act, DNR’s Derelict Vessel Removal Program took custody of the Chickamauga on January 16 after the owner failed to take responsibility and remove the vessel.  The old tug posed an ongoing threat to the Eagle Harbor marine environment and navigation in the area.

What will become of the Chickamauga—believed to be the nation’s first diesel-powered tug? The owner has until February 18 to appeal the custody. DNR staff will be assessing its historical significance, but the state is not in the business of restoring boats. Museums or other organizations concerned with historical preservation interested in the vessel are invited to contact DNR at dvrp@wa.gov.

Barring an appeal or viable interest from preservationists, the vessel may well be headed for the scrapyard.

Learn more about the sinking and raising of the Chickamauga on the Department of Ecology’s incident web page. 

DNR news release: ‘State DNR to remove derelict tugboat from Eagle Harbor’

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