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Newport: Front half of F/V Chevelle is brought to the surface, to be lifted on shore Saturday

The top photo was taken on March 12th, the last day the F/V Chevelle was seen in one piece. Even then it had been broken in two by strong surf. The next morning the vessel was gone, both pieces lying on the bottom of the 45 foot channel. Today the front half of the vessel, from the bridge to the bow, was raised to the surface and towed back into port and temporarily secured near the Port of Newport’s International Terminal.

Global Salvage out of Seattle sent divers down into the murky waters to tie lifting air bags to the submerged wreck. Then they secured lines fore and aft between two small tugs. When the air bags were inflated, the front half the the Chevelle came up easy and clean.

For the next hour and a half the two tugs gently pulled the last of the Chevelle up channel, then under the Yaquina Bay Bridge – her last homecoming since the insurance company who now owns here will sell her for scrap. Inside the harbor the two tugs pulled the Chevelle to the Port of Newport’s International Terminal where it was secured for the night. At high tide tomorrow, a large crane is expected to arrive and lift the Chevelle onto dry land. From there it’ll be processed and taken to a scrap yard in Portland.

The Chevelle ran aground on March 11th after an unlucky entry across the Yaquina Bay Bar. Crewmen said they were crossing the bar when an exceptionally high wave hit her from behind, raised up her stern and then threw her hard to port which tilted her toward the rocks. Her heavy cache of crab pots shifted knocking the Chevelle way off balance. With her rudder now out of the water, she was no longer steerable and headed straight into the jetty. She went aground and immediately was pounded by the high surf. It wasn’t long before the vessel was broken in two, right behind the bridge. The vessel lingered on the rocks for the next day, but by the morning of March 13th the Chevelle was on the bottom in two pieces.

Today’s salvage job will be it for a while since Global Salvage and the Coast Guard can’t find the back half of the vessel. A passing NOAA ship said it got a reading of where it is, but it’ll apparently take another visit by a NOAA ship to pin point exactly where the divers should go down and hook it up. No date has yet been set for that part of it.

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