After four months, progress on removing sunken tugboat

Four months after the 96-foot tugboat Challenger sank in Gastineau Channel, detailed efforts to remove the hulk are about to begin.

On Friday, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Juneau spokeswoman Lt. Jennifer Ferreira announced that the Coast Guard has received approval (and funding) to remove the Challenger.

“We will make it a priority to keep the community and stakeholders informed throughout this process,” said Capt. Shannan Greene, commander of Coast Guard Sector Juneau, in a prepared statement.

According to the Coast Guard, Global Diving and Salvage has been awarded the contract to remove the Challenger from the spot where it has rested, surrounded by an orange oil-spill containment boom, since Sept. 12.

The Empire has requested a copy of the removal plan, which has not yet been released. A team from Global Diving and Salvage is expected to begin diving on the wreck this week to recheck its condition and determine whether the plan needs to be changed.

Heavy equipment will be needed to remove the tugboat, which was built in World War II to serve the U.S. Army. The removal will take several weeks, and the wreck is expected to be removed in sections and destroyed. The Coast Guard has not yet announced what will be done with the wreckage, though a Capitol Landfill official said inquiries had been made about disposing of the Challenger there. Were the tugboat to end up in the landfill, it would have to be scrubbed of hazardous materials first.

Funding for the Challenger’s removal will come from the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which is likely to seek repayment from R.D. Robinson, the last-known owner of the Challenger. Approval to use the fund for removal of the Challenger had to come from headquarters, Coast Guard officials said, leading to a slow process.

More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of Feb. 26

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Mauka Grunenberg looks at live oysters for sale on Aug. 29, 2022, at Sagaya City Market in Anchorage. The oysters came from a farm in Juneau. Oysters, blue mussels and sugar, bull and ribbon kelp are the main products of an Alaska mariculture industry that has expanded greatly in recent years. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska’s mariculture industry expands, with big production increases in recent years, report says

While Alaska’s mariculture industry is small by global standards, production of farmed… Continue reading

U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola (center) walks with Alaska Rep. Will Stapp, R-Fairbanks, and Alaska Sen. Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, into the Alaska House of Representatives chambers ahead of her annual address to the Alaska Legislature on Monday. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
Peltola celebrates federal intervention in Albertsons, Kroger merger in legislative address

Congresswoman says wins for Alaska’s fisheries and state’s economy occurring through collaboration.

Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, speaks in support of Senate concurrence on a version of an education bill passed by the Alaska House last week during a Senate floor discussion on Monday. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Senate concurs on House education bill, Dunleavy is skeptical

Dunleavy schedules press conference Tuesday afternoon in Anchorage to discuss the legislation.

A photo by Ben Huff being exhibited as part of his presentation at 6:30 p.m. at the Alaska State Museum. (Photo courtesy of the Alaska State Museum)
Here’s what’s happening for First Friday in March

Both the state and city museums are celebrating 20 years of artistic… Continue reading

Goose Creek Correctional Center is seen in fall. (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Corrections)
Alaska prison failed to provide adequate dental care to inmates, state investigator finds

Goose Creek Correctional Center has gone years without a hygienist, forcing patients to wait

Jirdes Winther Baxter chats with Wayne Bertholl during her 100th birthday celebration Saturday at the Juneau Yacht Club. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Jirdes Winther Baxter, last survivor of 1925 Nome serum run, celebrates 100th birthday in Juneau

Five generations of family, dozens of friends and a coalition of political leaders offer tributes.

The Safeway supermarket in Juneau, seen here Oct. 4, 2023, is among those in Alaska that might be sold if its parent company, Albertsons Companies Inc., merges with Kroger Co., the parent company of Fred Meyer. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
US sues to block merger of grocery giants Kroger and Albertsons, saying it could push prices higher

Eight states, not including Alaska, join lawsuit against parent companies of Fred Meyer and Safeway.

Most Read