Video: Derelict Tug Goes Down Suddenly on Seattle's Ship Canal

Ballard sunken tug
Courtesy USCG

Published Mar 21, 2023 9:28 PM by The Maritime Executive

An abandoned tug sank suddenly at a wharf in Ballard, Seattle on Monday, coming to rest with its funnel on the pier. 

The Seattle Fire Department and the U.S. Coast Guard responded to the scene at about 1045 hours on Monday morning. They found a derelict tug taking on water. The vessel was empty and unoccupied, so no rescue response was required, and the tug went down fast as the crew stood by. 

Two other abandoned vessels were tied off to the tug when it went down, but they were not affected, the Coast Guard said. 

The lost tug had been defueled two years ago when officials made the determination that it was an abandoned vessel. The Coast Guard confirmed that there were no pollutants on board, though a light sheen was visible around the wreck site. The incident was out of the channel and had no impact on marine traffic. 

Derelict vessels are a costly problem for local and national authorities. Remediating pollutants, arranging for disposal and (if necessary) refloating sunken hulks are all costly measures, and are all too often left to public agencies. If left untended, they can release pollutants or go adrift, posing a hazad to other vessels. Last month, salvors raised a WWII-era tug that had partially sunk in the port of Juneau's Gastineau Channel, the second nuisance vessel to cause problems on the waterway in three years.