Salvors Raise Sunken Tugboat Specialist

Image courtesy Steve Finck / Facebook

By MarEx 2016-03-24 21:14:43

On Thursday morning, a team of salvors used the 1,000 ton floating shearlegs Chesapeake to raise the sunken tugboat Specialist from the Hudson River. 

Authorities boarded the raised vessel to recover the body of the Specialist's last missing crewmember, Harry Hernandez, 56. Divers had located Hernandez' remains earlier, the New York Daily News reported. But the body was "near the front of the tugboat, where there is a tremendous amount of damage from the impact,” according to a spokesman with the Westchester County police, making it "impossible" for the divers to remove Hernandez’ body without first raising the tug.

The bodies of the other two crewmembers, Paul Amon, 62, and Timothy Conklin, 29, have already been recovered.

The raising and removal of the tug will also aid pollution abatement efforts. Specialist had an estimated 5,000 gallons of diesel aboard; authorities said that a fuel leak created a slick some 300 feet wide and five nm long. A response contractor and the state's Department of Environmental Conservation have been working to mitigate the spill.

The Specialist went down at the Tappan Zee Bridge on the Hudson after striking a stationary construction barge. She was one of three tugs maneuvering a barge under the bridge at the time of impact. Neither of the other two tugboats made contact with an object, nor were any of the construction workers on the stationary barge injured.

The tug's impact with the construction barge and subsequent sinking is the second marine casualty involving floating construction equipment for the Tappan Zee Bridge project. 

Coast Guard spokesman Charles Rowe told a news conference that the tug will now go "to a discreet location so that we can continue the investigation . . . and then after that it's up to the owners as to what happens to it."

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino told the Journal News that a preliminary report on the incident will be ready next week.