An eight-day saga in North Carolina’s Outer Banks may soon come to its conclusion on the Chesapeake Bay.
The 78-foot-long shrimp trawler Bald Eagle II has been beached at a precarious angle in Southern Shores, near Duck, N.C. The fishing vessel became disabled on Dec. 7, and rough conditions pushed it onto the beach. The Coast Guard was able to rescue the four commercial fisherman on board by helicopter hoist.
“The water temperature near Southern Shores is currently 56 degrees, which is dangerous had these four men not been prepared,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Timothy Hall, operations unit controller for Sector North Carolina. “Fortunately, these men were wearing survival suits to prevent hypothermia when our rescue helicopter arrived.”
USCG released video of the thrashing waves as its crew airlifted the fishermen. Watch below:
The Coast Guard used the successful rescue as a reminder: “Dress for the water temperature, not the air temp!”
With the men safe and no injuries to speak of, removing the shrimp trawler itself has been more problematic. Bald Eagle II is owned and operated by Ocean Trawlers Inc., a U.S. company that operated in the North Carolina shrimp fishery. Ocean Trawlers worked together with the Coast Guard to remove the fuel and hazardous substances from the vessel to mitigate any environmental risk. Contractors removed more than 6,500 gallons of diesel fuel and 1,000 gallons of oily water mixture, according to USCG.
Getting the vessel floating again has been tricky, as it must be done during high tide. Witnesses report excavators attempted to dig the hull out of the sand to refloat it, but those attempts were unsuccessful. A commercial tugboat from a Charleston, S.C. salvage company is poised to tow the trawler off the beach. Ocean Trawlers tells Bay Bulletin that is expected to happen Wednesday, when more favorable tidal conditions are forecast.
Then, the company says, it will remediate any impacts to the beach where the vessel is currently stuck once towing operations are finished.
Bald Eagle II will be towed to Hampton, Va. for repairs.
-Meg Walburn Viviano