The pelagic grave of the long-suffering Lumberman lies open, its pallbearers waiting only for clear weather to tow it out and send it to the embrace of the crushing depths.
“We have secured all necessary permits to have the vessel scuttled in deep water,” said City and Borough of Juneau harbormaster Matt Creswell in an email. “The limitations (for) removing the Lumberman from CBJ is weather.”
With the I’s dotted and T’s crossed on the paperwork, Creswell said, the scuttling team is just waiting for a clear lane to safely transport the dilapidated vessel to its final home in thousands of feet of cold, dark seawater.
“(We’re waiting for) seas in the inside waters as well as Cross Sound being calm enough for both the towing vessel and the support vessel to safely operate,” Creswell said. “Those exact limits are up to the scuttling team.”
Permission was sought and received from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Coast Guard for the scuttling on the open sea.
“Once scuttled, the EPA and CG will be notified that the operation was successful and we will give them the final coordinates,” Creswell said. “The USCG is the agency responsible for ensuring that we stay within the limits of our permit.”
Cross Sound is located west of Elfin Cove, where the islands of Southeast Alaska open into the Gulf of Alaska. The costs of the operation will not be finalized until the Lumberman is on the bottom, Creswell said. The likelihood of CBJ repeating this exercise is not high, Creswell said.
“That could be a possibility but due to the complexity of the process, it would only be used in the most extreme of circumstances,” Creswell said. “We were lucky to get this permit so I’m not sure how willing the EPA would be to issue another.”
• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or email@example.com.