USCG authorizes federal cash to pay towards dismantling of American Challenger

The US Coast Guard’ has authorized the use of federal dollars from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund (OTLF) to dismantle fishing vessel American Challenger, which grounded on the rocks off the Marin Coast, Northern California in March 2021 (IMN March 12th 2021). The wreck was listing sharply in a rugged offshore area below steep bluffs that were unsafe for divers and most standard salvage approaches, even during mild weather. The Global Diving and Salvage Inc has been contracted to remove the vessel.

Public agencies have already spent several million dollars to inspect and secure the vessel and to protect the surrounding environment. Most of the fuel had been drained before its departure from the Puget Sound. An initial plan to pump it full of buoyant, expanding foam and float it off the rocks was dismissed because the hull is now badly damaged.

The current plan, which was developed last summer, includes rigging a block-and-tackle system to pull the vessel closer to shore and then cut it into pieces that can be hauled away by helicopter and barge. However, the plan will need to be reviewed and re-evaluated, given the movement of the vessel over winter.

The US Environmental Protection Agency will begin assessing the vessel’s current status this week through unmanned drone flights, as part of the evaluation of the plan for dismantling it.