Canaveral Port Authority Removes Hazardous Abandoned Vessel From Lagoon

By  //  August 31, 2016

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sunken 34-foot 1980 cabin cruiser

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As part of its overall program to safeguard the valuable Indian River Lagoon and its plant and animal life, the Canaveral Port Authority proactively worked to remove an abandoned vessel from near the lock before the partially submerged boat could become a significant hazard. (Port Canaveral image)

BREVARD COOUNTY • PORT CANAVERAL, FLORIDA – As part of its overall program to safeguard the valuable Indian River Lagoon and its plant and animal life, the Canaveral Port Authority proactively worked to remove an abandoned vessel from near the lock before the partially submerged boat could become a significant hazard.

Racing the Risks of Hurricane Season

Port Director of Public Safety and Security Jim Reynolds said, “Because this vessel was tucked back in a cove area and in relatively shallow water, it was not a significant threat to major navigation. However, it is a popular area for people kayaking and is frequented by dolphins and manatees in addition to many species of fish, all of which could have run into trouble around the wreck.

“However, the biggest risk was of the vessel breaking up in a big storm and releasing dangerous and toxic materials into the lagoon environment or potentially breaking free and impacting a bridge or the lock. We’re in hurricane season; we had to work quickly.”

About six months ago, the anchored 34-foot 1980 cabin cruiser developed a hole in the hull that caused it to take on water and sink. Located in only two to four feet of water, the vessel came to rest on the bottom, tilted onto its side and only partially submerged.

Coordinated Effort

Reynolds led the removal project, working closely with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office. The Florida Wildlife Commission and the U.S. Coast Guard also were consulted and involved. The Sheriff’s Office initiated the reporting process required by the state to classify the boat as a derelict vessel in late April.

Requirements include researching and notifying the vessel’s current owners and lien holders through posting and certified letters. In this case, the owner was contacted but was unable to remove the vessel on his own.

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Keeping close track of the case, Reynolds coordinated with a contractor — Captain Kevin Miller of CCNK, LLC — to begin removing the vessel as soon as the legal requirements were satisfied.

“There is a grant program to help with the cost of this kind of removal but the time frame for funding was six to 12 months. We felt it was important to get this done right away, so we elected to pay for the project out of the Port budget,” said Reynolds. The Port’s Environmental Department stepped in and paid for the removal.

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Port Director of Public Safety and Security Jim Reynolds said, “Because this vessel was tucked back in a cove area and in relatively shallow water, it was not a significant threat to major navigation. However, it is a popular area for people kayaking and is frequented by dolphins and manatees in addition to many species of fish, all of which could have run into trouble around the wreck.” (Port Canaveral images)

A Positive Outcome for the Lagoon and its Inhabitants

Among the substances that can leak or be released from abandoned and derelict vessels into the surrounding environment are oil, lubricants, paint, flame retardants, fiberglass, plastics, heavy metals, rope, wood, electrical items and textiles.

Larger items can destroy delicate habitats or be mistaken for food by birds.

Chemicals shed from the components can contaminate the local waters and sediment and be ingested by invertebrates that are important
parts of the food chain, according to Director of Port Environmental Bob Musser.

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Fortunately, this boat was not leaking its fuel or oil into the water. To avoid any spillage during the salvage process, the contractor pumped off the fluids that remained in tanks and engines before moving the vessel.

“There’s no doubt that prevention is the best method of combating hazards in our environment,” said Reynolds. “We had a good outcome. It was well worth the effort.”

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