The U.S. Coast Guard made progress Saturday in its efforts to raise the Alert, one of two vessels that sank near the Interstate 5 Bridge. For the first time since the ship sank in November, most of it was now above water. Previously, only the ship’s mast and some of the bow was above the waterline.
The former World War II submarine chaser is expected to be lifted and moved to a shipyard within three days.
Work began around 7 a.m. Saturday. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Travis Magee said the crew spent much of the day pumping water out of the sunken ship. The next step will be for a naval engineer to inspect the hull and assess its structural integrity, Magee added.
The D.B. Pacific Lifter ship, the largest crane barge on the West Coast, began lifting the Alert as the water was pumped out. Diving crews had already threaded chains under the vessel’s hull so the crane could begin lifting the ship up slowly. Meanwhile, crews watched to see if the hull was holding together.
If the ship’s hull holds together, it will be either patched up so it can float, or it will be placed on a floating dry dock and taken to Diversified Marine where any oily water left in the ship will be removed.
If the Alert’s hull does not hold and begins tearing or coming apart during this weekend’s lifting, the Coast Guard will stop and reassess its options.
One possibility is to remove as much contaminated water and trash in the boat and then cut the ship open while it’s still in the water.
The Pacific Lifter ship is contracted to work on the site through Monday.