Ship saved from sinking on Lake Union


by Associated Press and JAKE WHITTENBERG / KING 5 News

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Posted on December 21, 2011 at 7:02 AM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 21 at 9:19 AM

SEATTLE -- Emergency responders are making progress pumping out water from a 200-foot fishing vessel that took on water on Lake Union early Wednesday.

The Arica, a fishing vessel at a dry dock on the east side of Lake Union, began taking on water early Wednesday. Crews members were pumping out water from the boat when they lost power and called the Seattle Fire Department around 5:15 a.m.

Fire department crews arrived and began helping pump out water. A fire department boat, police boat and the Coast Guard also responded.

Pumps were able to bring the water level down to 15 inches. The shore power, which was lost earlier in the morning, was restored and boat crews have resumed pumping out water. Seattle Fire Department crews have left the scene.

There were no reports of injuries and all crew members were accounted for. Responders say the vessel is at no threat of sinking into the lake.

Crews at the scene believe the sea chest, a device at the base of the boat that lets in sea water into the boat, may have a leak. Crews plan to send divers to pinpoint the problem.

"They're still trying to assess what's going on inside the ship. They had a couple of explanations, so that's why that want to get divers into the water," said Seattle Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore.

Moore said no fuel has leaked into the water on Lake Union. The water from the boat is being pumped into a sewage drainage system, so no oily water from the engine room gets into Lake Union.

The Arica has been at the dry dock the past couple of weeks. It was set to go to Alaska on a fishing expedition in January. Boat crews say they don't plan on taking the vessel anywhere until they determine what the problem is.