Coast Guard Cutter John McCormick, a 154-foot Sentinel–class vessel, towed the derelict tugboat Lumberman, to a position 54 miles west of Cross Sound, Alaska, on May 2, 2021. The decision to dispose of the Lumberman at sea, which had been abandoned in the Gastineau channel in 2016, was made after it was determined to be derelict and posed a significant public safety risk. (Courtesy photo / U.S. Coast Guard)

Coast Guard Cutter John McCormick, a 154-foot Sentinel–class vessel, towed the derelict tugboat Lumberman, to a position 54 miles west of Cross Sound, Alaska, on May 2, 2021. The decision to dispose of the Lumberman at sea, which had been abandoned in the Gastineau channel in 2016, was made after it was determined to be derelict and posed a significant public safety risk. (Courtesy photo / U.S. Coast Guard)

Lumberman finally towed out and scuttled

We won’t be seeing it again.

The long and peculiar tale of the Lumberman has finally come to an end more than a mile beneath the surface of the Gulf of Alaska.

Dealing with the nuisance vessel over the last five years has cost more than $230,000, said City and Borough of Juneau harbormaster Matt Creswell, with the Docks and Harbors department shouldering about $160,000 of that.

The Coast Guard Cutter John McCormick, a Sentinel-class cutter homeported in Ketchikan, assisted the operation, towing the gutted vessel 54 miles west of Cross Sound, where specialists from Global Diving and Salvage opened valves in the hull, scuttling the vessel without incident, Creswell said.

“Nuisance vessels are a challenge to address,” said Cmdr. Byron Hayes, Coast Guard Sector Juneau response chief, in a news release. “In this case we were able to coordinate the appropriate resources to safely remove the threat Lumberman posed to navigation, the local environment and the community of Juneau.”

[America’s new normal: A degree hotter than two decades ago]

The Lumberman had been here since his arrival in 2013, Creswell said, and started to become a real issue in about 2016. Disagreements about who was responsible for disposal of the derelict vessel was came to a halt in 2020 when the Lumberman dragged its anchor and ran aground in CBJ lands following heavy weather.

Coast Guard Cutter John McCormick, a 154-foot Sentinel–class vessel, towed the derelict tugboat Lumberman, to a position 54 miles west of Cross Sound, Alaska, on May 2, 2021. The 107-ft steel hulled tugboat was scuttled in over 8,400 feet of water. (Courtesy photo / U.S. Coast Guard)

Coast Guard Cutter John McCormick, a 154-foot Sentinel–class vessel, towed the derelict tugboat Lumberman, to a position 54 miles west of Cross Sound, Alaska, on May 2, 2021. The 107-ft steel hulled tugboat was scuttled in over 8,400 feet of water. (Courtesy photo / U.S. Coast Guard)

“We’re always battling the derelict vessels. Boats are expensive, especially in Alaska, to get rid of,” Creswell said. “It costs so much to get rid of anything.”

With the Lumberman passing into CBJ’s responsibility, permission was sought and received to scuttle the vessel at sea. CBJ worked with the Coast Guard, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Global Diving and Salvage to pump the vessel empty, remove all hazardous materials, and approximately 250 cubic yards of debris prior to the scuttling.

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

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