Removal of Sunken Derelict Vessels from the Makah Marina at Neah Bay, WA

The mast of a sunken vessel protrudes out of the water at the Makah Marina in Neah Bay.
The mast of a sunken vessel protrudes out of the water at the Makah Marina in Neah Bay. (Photo Credit: NOAA)

The Makah Indian Tribe worked to remove three sunken vessels from the Makah Marina in the Makah Tribe Indian Reservation, and conducted outreach to prevent future abandoned and derelict vessels.

Type of Project: Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant

Region: Pacific Northwest

Project Dates: September 2017 – December 2018

Who is involved?
With the support of a NOAA Marine Debris Program Community-based Marine Debris Removal grant, the Makah Indian Tribe worked to remove three sunken vessels from the Makah Marina in the town of Neah Bay, Washington.

What is the project and why is it important?
The Makah Indian Tribe removed three abandoned and derelict vessels (ADVs) that sank in the Makah Marina, an area within the Makah Tribe Reservation at the scenic Northwest corner of Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. These ADVs presented a hazard to boat traffic in the marina, would likely break down over time to form a larger marine debris field, and diminished the Tribe’s ability to utilize the marina fully. At 34, 60, and 65 feet long, the three ADVs were relatively small, but could still have a big impact.

Removal of the vessels was conducted by a contracted salvage firm, with tribal staff experienced in vessel removal, provided oversight, coordination, and overall project management. For vessel removal operations, the salvage contractor used lift bags or, if needed, a derrick which slowly re-floated the vessels. After re-floating, the vessels were loaded on a barge, and transported for recycling and disposal.

In addition to overseeing the removal, tribal staff also conducted outreach activities focused on ADV prevention. They used methods which included newspaper articles that highlighted the vessel removal and the importance of vessel maintenance, educational signs posted on the marina, and long term education efforts initiated by marina staff which raised awareness to boat owners about the negative impacts of ADVs.