USCG Cleans Up Wrecked and Sunken Vessels After Hurricane Sally

wrecked boats
Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Jeremy Thomas, a marine science technician, oversees cleanup efforts at Joe Patti Seafood Marina following storm damage caused by Hurricane Sally, Sept. 26, 2020. Thomas is the federal on-scene coordinator representative fo

Published Sep 30, 2020 2:08 PM by The Maritime Executive

When Hurricane Sally made landfall in Alabama as a Category 2 hurricane in mid-September, it caused widespread damage to commercial and recreational vessels across both Alabama and Florida, according to Coast Guard Sector Mobile. The response to that damage is now fully under way. 

On Tuesday, the sector's hurricane response effort shifted to a maritime environmental response focused on vessel pollution cleanup and salvage operations. 

“It’s important to understand the gravity of this situation,” said Cmdr. Kelly Thorkilson, Coast Guard Hurricane Sally incident commander. “We have identified more than one hundred vessels actively releasing pollution into the marine environment, and we need to continue to work closely with the community and partner agencies to ensure the cleanup process is conducted safely and effectively.” 

Images courtesy USCG

The USCG is encouraging vessel owners to hire a commercial salvage company to recover their boats, which will ensure the safest removal method possible for the public and environment. Lost or abandoned vessels should be reported to local law enforcement offices to complete a “found property claim.” 

Specific areas affected by environmental pollution include a half-mile stretch of the Gulf Islands National Seashore on Perdido Key, Florida. The Coast Guard has assessed and collected samples from the area and is awaiting results. Its responders are working with the National Park Service and National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration to address cleanup operations and reduce environmental impact.

Coast Guard Petty Officer First Class Kenny Tucker, the Gulf Strike Team Response Supervisor, collects an oil sample on Johnson Beach, Florida, Sept. 26, 2020 (USCG)

Image courtesy Escambia County