As crews towed a barge that had been listing in Commencement Bay to shore Monday, their focus shifted to how to retrieve an undetermined number of scrap vehicles that went overboard in the process of salvaging the vessel.
The roughly 250-foot barge is owned by Canadian-based Amix Marine Services, according to the Coast Guard, and was on its way to deliver the scrap metal to recycler Schnitzer Steels location along the Hylebos Waterway on Sunday when it started listing.
The person who answered the Amix after-hours phone Monday referred comment to the Coast Guard and said the company was still completing its own investigation.
Reports are that about eight or nine cars sank, but the exact number had not been determined Monday, state Department of Ecology specialist Ron Holcomb said.
The Coast Guard, the state Department of Ecology and the private companies were still forming plans Monday about how to recover the submerged vehicles, he said.
The bay is about 242 feet deep where the cars went overboard, Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer 3rd Class Nate Littlejohn said.
After pumping water from the vessel overnight, crews got approval from the Coast Guard on Monday morning to tow it to Schnitzer, but waited until the afternoon due to strong winds.
It will take several days to unload the metal, at which point officials will further inspect the barge, to make sure the roughly 16-inch-by-quarter-inch crack is permanently repaired and that the vessel can safely travel, according to the state Department of Ecology and the Coast Guard.
Amix and Schnitzer hired Global Diving & Salvage to stabilize the vessel Sunday.
While crews were pumping water out of the barge and temporarily patching a crack in its hull to keep it from sinking, some of the scrap vehicles stacked on board appeared to slide into the water, Holcomb said.
A slight oil sheen, which Holcomb said appeared to be residual oil from the vehicles, was visible in the water around the boat Sunday. The amount was not significant, he said.
The Coast Guard and the state Department of Ecology were investigating.
Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268