The 96-foot tugboat Challenger is grounded south of downtown to start the demolition process on Monday.

The 96-foot tugboat Challenger is grounded south of downtown to start the demolition process on Monday.

Stricken tugboat enters final stage of demolition

The tugboat Challenger is nearing its final resting place.

Having been stripped of its lead paint and other hazardous material, the 96-foot WWII tugboat was towed from the Alaska-Juneau Dock and beached at a site not far from Thane Road on Monday afternoon.

“It was intentionally pulled ashore there at the Rock Dump; the (oil containment) boom was relocated with it,” said Coast Guard Lt. Jennifer Ferreira, a spokeswoman.

The boat will be dismantled by heavy equipment, with recyclable portions heading to a local recycler and the rest headed to the Capitol Landfill.

When that happens, it will be the end of the Challenger, which was built in 1944, and the end of the Challenger’s ordeal, which began Sept. 12, when it sank in Gastineau Channel.

“We anticipate it will be done this week, by Friday,” Ferreira said.

She added that work will continue through the night. “They’re basically going to be working mostly at low tide,” she said.

Souvenir hunters need not apply. “We will have security on scene at the times when nobody is working,” she said.

Raising the tugboat from the Channel involved a lengthy process coordinated by the U.S. Coast Guard, which used the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to pay for the process. Late last month, a Coast Guard spokeswoman said the maximum bill for the Challenger’s removal could be up to $1.7 million. A final tally has not yet been made, and the trust fund may seek repayment from the boat’s last known owner, Douglas artist R.D. Robinson.

Robinson has denied owning the boat and has repeatedly refused the Empire’s attempts to contact him.

• Contact reporter James Brooks at james.k.brooks@juneauempire.com.

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