HAMPDEN, Maine — When high tide hit around 4:30 p.m. Friday, crews that worked throughout the day to install air bags and floats in the belly of the grounded Eastern Star fishing vessel found that their salvage plans did not work out the way they had hoped.
The game plan called for pumping water out of the vessel and putting air bags underneath, U.S. Coast Guard Marine Science Technician 3rd Class Jesse Hagler said Friday morning.
“The idea is that when the tide comes in, they will ride it out.” Hagler said.
But what sounded good in theory did not work so well in application.
“Efforts to re-float the vessel have failed as the boat just fills with water and will sink back down to [the] mud flat with the receding tide, Maine Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Samantha Depoy-Warren said late Friday afternoon after checking in with staff who have been monitoring the situation.
“Given this, it would seem to take extreme measures to salvage it now.” she said. She said the DEP staff on scene recommended that the vessel be scrapped “so it does not pose a further environmental or navigational threat.”
Depoy-Warren said that while little petroleum remained on board, there still was some sheen from the bilge that has been seen leaking into the river. The boom placed around the vessel to contain fuel will remain in place over the weekend, likely until Monday, she said.
“We have requested [that] the owner advise the department about the plans for salvage-scrapping so that we can continue to contain the contaminants and minimize the environmental impact to the river,” she said.
The Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment from Belfast and the DEP responded Thursday morning to a mudflat in a small cove in Hampden just south of the Bangor city line, where the rusty 57-foot fishing boat sat.
The owner of the grounded vessel is Josh Mizrachi, who also owns Ace Taxi in Bangor, Depoy-Warren said Friday afternoon in an email interview.
The Eastern Star, which still bears its old name, the Roamer, ran aground Wednesday night after the vessel’s owner tried to moor it and tangled his line in the propeller, Hagler said. The Roamer sank Jan. 15 at the Rockland fish pier, also requiring the DEP and Coast Guard to respond.
The boat, with a floating yellow containment boom placed around it by the DEP after an oil sheen was noticed, still was visible Friday morning from Main Road North in Hampden tilted on its port side.
A barge with about four people on it could be seen working on a platform, some passing compressed air tanks into the fully exposed hull. Ropes also were used to tether the grounded boat to shore to secure it while the work was done.
“DEP personnel are on a barge at the scene observing the salvage efforts,” Depoy-Warren said. “The diver who placed the float bags was hired directly by the vessel owner. Our staff are performing pollution recovery of oil from [the] bilge and monitoring the boom.”
Calls to Mizrachi’s cellphone were not answered, and voicemail messages left Friday afternoon were not immediately returned.
BDN reporters Dawn Gagnon and Nick McCrea contributed to this report.