Mar 112012

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Newport based commercial Fishing Vessel Chevelle remains hard aground on the south side of the North Jetty. However, heavy waves, which are expected to grow much larger, have broken the internal structure of the vessel in half so that the wheel house is swaying in the water almost independent of its after-section.

Commercial fishermen looking at the wreck from the safety of the South Jetty indicated that a barge with a crane on top could retrieve the vessel but only if it were cut in two and then each half loaded onto another barge. As it turns out, the ocean may provide sufficient metal fatigue with the back and forth of the waves to actually break the vessel into two distinct parts. There is, they say, the chance that one or both halves could simply sink to the bottom of the 45-foot channel, causing a substantial hazard to navigation.

As for the boat’s diesel fuel, the Coast Guard said that the F/V Chevelle has 3,000 to 4,000 gallons on board and that a light sheen is beginning to leak from the vessel. However, the high waves and stiff winds are dissipating and dispersing the fuel very effectively, according to the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard adds that pre-established response plans have been triggered to protect environmentally sensitive areas within Yaquina Bay and that a pollution control contractor is at the ready should that occur.

The Coast Guard also reports that salvage operations will begin as soon as the heavy weather subsides. High winds and heavy seas are forecasted through mid-week.

The F/V Chevelle is a 70-foot crab boat owned by Chad Hall, who is a third generation family commercial fisherman. Fishermen watching the boat on the jetty this afternoon described Hall as a very experienced fisherman and although he was not on the vessel at the time it was tossed onto it’s side, he is known for hiring very professional crews for the boat. Fishermen say crossing the bar is always dicey this time of year, and that no one can predict what kind of wave action they’re going to run into, minute to minute, while crossing the bar. “It’s always a little bit of a crap shoot,” one fisherman said.

So we’ll see what the sea does to the Chevelle and how salvaging it plays out.

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