After months sitting abandoned in Unalaska, the state announced on Dec. 22 its intention to dispose of the F/V Akutan.
The processor was abandoned in Unalaska’s Captains Bay in September following a disastrous fishing season in Bristol Bay where the ship’s owner went broke, the crew went unpaid, and it’s 158,000 pound haul of salmon was declared unfit for human consumption.
Numerous state and federal agencies were working to move the vessel, but no one stepped up to take responsibility of the vessel until now.
“I think now we’ve recognized the potential harm that this vessel could cause as it sits there all winter," said Clark Cox of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR). "We want to see if we can take the next appropriate steps to rectify the issue.”
The state is looking for buyers interested in the vessel. If there are two or more prospective buyers, they will conduct a public auction or the F/V Akutan will be donated for scrap or destroyed. Cox says a couple people have called in with interest, but because of the vessels location and condition he has not had lots of people offering heaps of money.
“I don’t see a lot of value in the vessel to be quite honest," Cox said. "Others may, but I don’t.”
In the event that DNR ends up owning the vessel, Cox says they are looking for partners to bear the burden of paying to remove it -- partners like the City of Unalaska.
At the last City Council meeting of 2017, Ports Director Peggy McLaughlin briefed the council on the status of the Akutan.
“In order to get rid of the vessel, someone had to take control of the vessel," McLaughlin said. "DNR had no skin in the game other than they had the authority to take control of the vessel."
McLaughlin says the City has explored various options to get the vessel out of city limits including scrapping it, scuttling it, and towing it to the Lower 48. Scrapping she says would cost about $500,000. But McLaughlin believes the U.S. Coast Guard may be able to do an emergency scuttle of the vessel -- for that, the cost could be as low as $31,000 and as high as $205,000.
A number Mayor Frank Kelty says sounds reasonable.
"If it would cost $200,000, to get it out of here forever, I would encourage the council to think about considering that," Kelty said. "If that is what it is going to take."
The Council is expected to continue it’s discussion of the F/V Akutan at the Jan. 9 City Council meeting.