Ballard Partners with Coast Guard for Vessel Removal

Ballard Marine Construction (Ballard) has been contracted to assist the United States Coast Guard with the removal of two sunken vessels in the Columbia River in Portland, Oregon. The 125-foot Alert and 100-foot Sakarissa are submerged off Hayden Island, located adjacent to the Interstate 5 bridge. After being lifted from the water, patched then will be towed for salvage.

The project is not without its challenges. Removal requires careful environmental planning and, as situated, pose a collision hazard for vessels. The time to remove them from the navigation channel is now.

Jon Hardt, Ballard’s Northwest Area Manager, explains the unique nature of this salvage operation. “The two vessels are alike in that they contain a lot of garbage and waste and that needs to be remediated. Additionally, the shallow water depth requires extra careful planning in terms of barge, crane and support service placement to ensure that when the tide changes, we’re not grounded or worse sunk.”

Given the size of the salvage, Ballard has chartered the Pacific Lifter, which is one of the largest water-based cranes on the west coast. Almost one-fifth the size of the adjacent Interstate 5 Bridge, the crane sits on a 400 ft. by 106 ft. by 28.5 ft. pedestal and has a capacity of 1,042 tons. The Pacific Lifter will be arriving on site September 26th.

Work is planned to commence in September, beginning with dive assessments to determine the safest way to raise and transport the two vessels. Operations to raise the vessels will then continue throughout the rest of the month.

“Even though the Coast Guard oversaw the removal of thousands of gallons of diesel and oily water from these vessels in 2020, they still pose a risk,” said Lt. Lisa Siebert, the Incident Management Division Supervisor at Coast Guard Sector Columbia River – Detachment Portland. “We have worked closely with our State and local partners to develop an integrated plan to remove these vessels and protect the public and the environment.”

During project activities, an area of shore land will be cordoned off and secured for project use.