Mysterious boat draws attention

Rescue boats were dispatched to vessel near I-205 Bridge

By John Branton, Columbian Staff Reporter

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Of all the boats on the Columbia River -- going after those tasty spring chinook near the Interstate 205 Bridge on Wednesday -- one seemed different.

One person who called 911 about 5:30 p.m. thought it was just a regular boat, but its engine wouldn’t start and it was drifting downriver and needing a tow.

Others saw no one on board and figured the crew needed help in the cold water and strong currents in some areas.

The most exciting theory was that it was a military stealth boat, some built to get fighters like Navy SEALs to an operation without being detected, and bring them out fast under the radar.

As the ideas flew, the Vancouver and Portland fire departments sent rescue boats, said Capt. Dave James with the Vancouver Fire Department and firefighter-spokesman Paul Corah with the Portland Fire Bureau.

Portland’s Rescue Boat 17 reached the boat first, and soon radioed other rescuers they could stand down.

As it turned out, the boat folks had been concerned about is owned by Oregon Iron Works, Corah said. He said he was told the low-profile boat’s crew was testing a pump, one the company may use in one of two new fire boats it is building for the Portland Fire Bureau.