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Troubled tugboat becomes property of the state, tow expected this week

The “Chickamauga”, a 100-year-old tugboat, sank in the early morning hours 
on Oct. 2 in its mooring at the Eagle Harbor Marina and spilled approximately 
200 to 300 gallons of diesel fuel. The owner now faces criminal charges due to 
the neglected conditions of the vessel.
Image credit: Luciano Marano | Bainbridge Island Review

The removal of the derelict tugboat that currently sits in Eagle Harbor is now the state's problem.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources has officially taken custody of the "Chickamauga," the vessel that sank in Eagle Harbor in early October and leaked approximately 200 to 300 gallons of diesel fuel into Puget Sound.

The state seized the historic tugboat Thursday, Jan. 16, following an announcement by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark of the filing of charges against the owner Anthony R. Smith the day before.

"It's DNR's boat," said Eagle Harbor Marina harbormaster Doug Crow.

A towing plan for the vessel has been approved by the Coast Guard, and following an OK from a marina in Port Townsend where the tugboat will be taken, the 100-year-old tug is expected to leave Bainbridge Island later this week.

The owner of the tug still has a chance to regain custody of the boat.

According to the "Notice Of Intent To Obtain Custody" posted on the vessel itself, "After taking custody, DNR may use or dispose of it [the vessel] without further notice. The owner is responsible for all related costs."

If the owner wants to reclaim the vessel or challenge the decision, he must file a written appeal with the Pollution Control Hearings Board.

"There's a 30-day appeal period for anybody who thinks they own it," Crow said last week.

The vessel is expected to be moved by Global Diving & Salvage, the company that helped raise the vessel after is slipped to the bottom of Eagle Harbor while still at its moorage spot last year.

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