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For Immediate Release: May 17, 2004
LeConte Floating Freely, Salvors Transport to Ketchikan
Juneau, Alaska-The Unified Command reports that the LeConte floated free of Cozian Reef at 11:40 this morning. Salvage crews from Crowley Marine worked through the weekend to patch, plug and make the necessary fittings to prepare the LeConte to be re-floated.
Metal cofferdams, plywood, epoxy and neoprene patches which were used to temporarily plug holes and damaged areas on the hull. In places where the hull could not be patched, air compressors are being used to create a bubble for the ship to float on. With this buoyancy, the ship was able to float free of the reef at high tide and was towed to deeper water where dive teams took another look at the bottom. No additional damage was reported.
Tug Chuhunta is towing the LeConte from its bow. Coast Guard Cutter Liberty and the American Salvor are escorting the ship. Salvage teams had originally planned to anchor the LeConte in a nearby cove to apply more patches but operations have gone so well that crewmembers decided to immediately begin towing to Ketchikan for repair. Current speed is approximately five knots. Salvage crews expect to arrive in Ketchikan in approximately three days.
The Coast Guard has established a moving safety zone around the LeConte and her flotilla. Mariners are advised to maintain a 500-yard distance from the flotilla and to maintain a minimum safe speed while passing.