photos by Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire                                The derelict tugboat Lumberman lies moored to a city-owned pier on Sunday after coming adrift and grounding near Norway Point downtown.

photos by Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire The derelict tugboat Lumberman lies moored to a city-owned pier on Sunday after coming adrift and grounding near Norway Point downtown.

After unplanned voyage, run-away tugboat secured to city dock

City Docks and Habors likely to take responsibility for removing Lumberman

After an unplanned voyage down Gastineau Channel Saturday night, the derelict tugboat Lumberman is now tied up to a city dock.

The Coast Guard contracted with private companies and others to tow the Lumberman — which drug anchor and drifted several hundred feet Saturday toward downtown near Norway Point — to a city-owned pier downtown near Taku Fisheries.

“That’s where she’s gonna sit till we figure out a disposal plan,” City and Borough of Juneau Docks and Harbors Harbormaster Dave Borg said Monday. “There’s a lot of moving parts. Lots of things to figure out this week.”

Before the recent migration, the tug had been situated on state tidelands, making it the state’s responsibility to remove when the tug’s owner did not. Now, it appears to be the city’s responsibility.

“I think Docks and Harbors will take responsibility for it moving forward,” Carl Uchytil, head of CBJ Docks and Harbors, said Monday. “We’ll start the process here shortly to impound it and move forward as we would any other derelict vessel.”

The Lumberman has been sitting in Gastineau Channel — a patchwork of CBJ, state and federal land — since about May 2018, and presented jurisdictional issues for removal.

The Coast Guard, working with CBJ Docks and Harbors, contracted with Global Diving and Salvage, Amak Towing and the tugboat Taku Wind to move the Lumberman.

“The skipper on the Taku Wind handled it like a dream,” Borg said. “It went really smooth with the Coast Guard handling it.”

The Lumberman is structurally sound, Borg said. He added that contaminants, such as fuel or oil, were pumped out during an effort last year, so it’s safely moored alongside the pier.

Towing the vessel and securing it to the dock took emergency funding provided from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, according to Cmdr. Byron Hayes, Coast Guard District 17’s Response Department Head. That’s a federal fund that was put in place after the Exxon Valdez disaster, comes from taxes on oil companies and is used to clean up oil spills and environmental damage from those spills, small or large.

“For us to access that (money), it usually requires an actual or potential environmental threat,” Hayes said. “The second it starts moving down the channel, it becomes a substantial threat in the eyes of the federal on scene coordinator, Capt. (Stephen) White.”

White is the commanding officer of Coast Guard Sector Juneau. The total cost of moving the Lumberman is not yet known, Hayes said, but any money used from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund has a cap set on it from the outset of the operation. The cap is also not known yet, and varies based on the expected needs of the operation. There is flexibility if an operation turns out to be more complicated than the initial assesment, Hayes said.

“We were able to take prompt action with our partners so it’s no longer in the middle of the channel posing an environmental threat,” Hayes said in an interview. “We had tugs here that weren’t contracted to do other things. They got underway, cut the ground tackle, took it in tow, and towed it safely.”

The owner of the Lumberman, Brendan Mattson, had not been in contact with authorities at this time, Borg said. The Empire attempted to contact him as well.

The tugboat Lumberman sits adrift in Gastineau Channel Sunday.

The tugboat Lumberman sits adrift in Gastineau Channel Sunday.

“There’s still an owner,” Borg said. “We’ve just made it safe for the public, in lieu of anyone else taking any action.”

For those who want a closer look at the tugboat, Borg cautioned that it is secured to a city-owned pier and that the boat is not open to the public. Climbing aboard would be considered trespassing.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of May 18

Here’s what to expect this week.

Juneau high school seniors Edward Hu of Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé (left), Elizabeth Djajalie of Thunder Mountain High School (center) and Kenyon Jordan of Yaaḵoosgé Daakahídi Alternative High School. (Photos of Hu and Jordan by Juneau Empire staff, photo of Djajalie by Victor Djajalie)
Senior Spotlight 2024: Three top students take very different paths to graduation stage

Ceremonies for Juneau’s three high schools take place Sunday.

The entrance road to Bartlett Regional Hospital. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file photo)
Bartlett Regional Hospital looking at eliminating or trimming six ‘non-core’ programs to stabilize finances

Rainforest Recovery Center, autism therapy, crisis stabilization, hospice among programs targeted.

A king salmon. (Ryan Hagerty/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Biden administration advances bid to list Gulf of Alaska king salmon as endangered or threatened

Experts say request could restrict activity affecting river habitats such as road, home construction

Mayor Beth Weldon (left), Deputy Mayor Michelle Bonnet Hale and Juneau Assembly member Paul Kelly discussion proposals for next year’s mill rate during an Assembly Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday night. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Assembly members support lower 10.04 mill rate ahead of final vote on next year’s CBJ budget

Initial proposal called for raising current rate of 10.16 mills to 10.32 mills.

Dave Scanlan, general manager of Eaglecrest Ski Area, speaks to the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Finance Committee on April 13, 2023. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Dave Scanlan forced out as Eaglecrest’s general manager, says decision ‘came as a complete shock to me’

Resort’s leader for past 7 years says board seeking a “more office-process, paper-oriented” manager.

The entrance to the Alaska Gasline Development Corp.’s Anchorage office is seen on Aug. 11, 2023. The state-owned AGDC is pushing for a massive project that would ship natural gas south from the North Slope, liquefy it and send it on tankers from Cook Inlet to Asian markets. The AGDC proposal is among many that have been raised since the 1970s to try commercialize the North Slope’s stranded natural gas. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Eight young Alaskans sue to block proposed trans-Alaska natural gas pipeline

Plaintiffs cite climate change that harms their access to fish, wildlife and natural resources.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Tuesday, May 21, 2024

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

Most Read