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Originally published May 16, 2012 at 9:11 PM | Page modified May 16, 2012 at 9:34 PM

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State expects moving sunken boat from Penn Cove to cost $500,000

The cost to raise the derelict FV Deep Sea from the bottom of Penn Cove? At least $500,000, according to a state estimate.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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I wonder how the fire started.......... MORE
Port of Seattle spokesman Peter McGraw said, "We advertised it as scrap, we sold... MORE
Note to DNR: It's cheaper and easier to move an abandoned boat BEFORE it sinks. MORE

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The state estimates it will cost at least $500,000 to raise the derelict FV Deep Sea from the bottom of Penn Cove, compounding an already expensive environmental mess in a famed shellfish aquaculture.

The state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which manages state ownership of the seabed, is seeking bids for the job and will seek to bill the owner of the 128-foot crab boat.

DNR spokesman Bryan Flint said the agency is "hopeful but not optimistic" it will recoup the cost from the owner, who had ignored nearly $5,000 in fines intended to force removal before the Deep Sea sank on Sunday after a fire.

The Coast Guard is continuing cleanup efforts of a diesel-fuel spill that led to closure of mussel harvesting in Penn Cove. Toxicity tests of shellfish are pending, with results potentially weeks out, said Department of Health spokesman Donn Moyer.

Costs to remove the Deep Sea from the seabed will be paid for initially by a jobs-creation fund, passed this year by the Legislature, which includes a one-time grant of $3 million for removal of derelict vessels, Flint said.

"Before the fire, the Deep Sea was not in danger of sinking," he said.

Deep Sea owner Rory Westmoreland, a Renton scrap dealer, bought the 65-year-old vessel through a Craigslist ad posted by the Port of Seattle, said Port spokesman Peter McGraw. The Port seized the Deep Sea in 2010 after the previous owner, Factotum Fisheries, fell six months behind in $1,500-a-month moorage fees at Fishermen's Terminal near the Ballard Bridge.

After failing to find a buyer at auction, the Port sold the Deep Sea to Westmoreland at the scrap price of $2,500.

"We advertised it as scrap, we sold it as scrap, and a scrap dealer bought it, so we assumed it's going to be used for the intent that he purchased it," McGraw said.

Instead, Westmoreland towed the decrepit Deep Sea to Penn Cove in late December, and then ignored trespass warnings and $83-a-day fines by DNR.

Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, said those fines were clearly not effective.

"To me, you give it so long, and then you tow the thing away," she said. "It's ridiculous that someone can pull it in somewhere and leave it there," she said.

Jonathan Martin: 206-464-2605 or jmartin@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @jmartin206.

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