The Coast Guard response team applied boom to the water on Sunday to contain any fuel leaking from the sunken tugboat. A minimal amount of fluid was found to be on board. The Coast Guard will be working throughout the week to coordinate a salvage operation.
The Challenger was built in 1944 for the U.S. Army and later used as a “bunk and breakfast” in Seattle. Around 2002, the tugboat made its voyage to Juneau and was eventually sold to local artist R.D. Robinson.
A tugboat, known as Challenger, sank near Aurora Harbor around 3 p.m. on Saturday. Coast Guard Petty Officer Geno Kludt said the 96-foot wooden vessel was engulfed by water in about fifteen minutes.
No one was suspected to be on board.
“Basically, it’s one of those fixer upper type boats that’s been anchored up in Gastineau Channel. It just finally took on enough water and sank,” he said.
Kludt warned boaters to watch out for debris and the vessel’s mast sticking up. He said there are plans to assess the damage but raising it might be complicated.
“It’s ultimately the owners responsibility to coordinate the salvage efforts,” he said. “However, if he’s not able to take action on it, that’s when the Coast Guard may have to help with the salvage efforts to raise the vessel.”
There’s no word on when that might take place. For now, Kludt said boaters should proceed with caution through the site.
About the tug "Challenger"
Tugboat Challenger, a 96' TP Class tugboat, is currently being refurbished in Juneau, Alaska.
The keel was laid in March of 1944, in Wilmington, CA. August 1944 she was completed and designated as TP 126- ON 177380.
"TP" stands for Tug/Passenger.
She was built for the Department of the Army to service the West Coast up to the Aleutian Chain.
Currently no information has been obtained as to what she did during her "war years."
In 1946, she was decommissioned and sold to "Island Tug and Barge", on Vancouver Island, and renamed, "Island Challenger."
She operated throughout Puget Sound, to Northern B.C., pulling log rafts and barges, providing ship assists and salvage operations.