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Princess Kathleen

Incident Description

  • Ship Wreck Location: Point Lena, Juneau, Alaska
  • Resources Affected: Favorite Channel, Northern Lynn Canal
  • Cause:  The 369-foot passenger vessel SS Princess Kathleen grounded on Pt Lena, just north of Juneau, during bad weather on September 7, 1952.  Approximately 10 hours later during an incoming tide she slipped off the rock and sank with an unknown quantity of fuel oil in her tanks. Since her sinking periodic fuel releases and oil sheens have been noted in her vicinity. The vessel currently sits at an angle on its port side at a depth ranging from 52 feet at the bow to 134 feet at the stern.
  • Spill No. 10119904701

Status Updates

May 28, 2010

Response Action:

  • Global Diving and Salvage (Global) removed a 4-foot by 4-foot section of the hull to access the eight service tanks which, according the ship’s plans, held a variety of petroleum products.  The space had previously been hot-tapped, and a significant quantity of mix petroleum products and oily water was removed from the space.  The access route was blocked by a tank not shown on the ship’s plans.  Divers drilled into the tank and determined it did not contain any oil.  Debris and piping made access into the space to examine the eight tanks shown on the plans impossible.  The visual inspection completed by the diver and the Remotely Operated Vehicle  indicated the space did not contain any large quantity of free-floating oil.  The Unified Command, based on the information collected, decided not to continue efforts to access the eight service tanks.  It is assumed, based on the amount of oil removed from the overhead (ceiling) in the compartment, that the service tanks have failed and discharged their contents into the interior of the ship. 
  • The 4-foot by 4-foot hull section is being re-attached to the vessel today using welded patches and underwater epoxy.  Global divers will continue work today to return the vessel to as near the pre-response condition as possible.
  • Landing plates with the attached flanges used during the hot-tapping procedures are being spot-welded closed and left on the vessel’s hull. 
  • All large openings created during the response will be closed to prevent access to interior spaces on the vessel.  Temporary patches placed over the port holes have been removed.
  • Crews removed the response equipment container in Amalga Harbor and the pre-positioned containment boom in Tee Harbor.
  • Today, Southeast Alaska Petroleum Resource Organization (SEAPRO) responders will recover the containment boom deployed to the north and south of dive operations. 
  • The boom directly around the dive platform will be maintained as long as vessels are onsite.
  • The safety zone onsite remains in effect until the mooring system is removed. Vessels transiting the area should refer to marine channel 16 for Notices to Mariners.
  • Global has completed all feasible fuel transfer operations from the Princess Kathleen, and the majority of all bunker and other oils have been safely removed from the vessel.  Small quantities of petroleum remain trapped within the vessel and will continue to be released over time.  However, the response has removed a significant threat to the shores and waters of Lynn Canal and insures that the Princess Kathleen will not be the source of a catastrophic release in the future.
  • The volumes reported include a percentage of water; the actual volume of fuel recovered will not be known until the product is measured at the disposal and recycling center.  Approximately 118,800 gallons of bunker oil was recovered from the fuel tanks.  An additional 25,500 gallons of other petroleum products, bunker oil and oily water have been collected from overhead spaces and after engine room spaces onboard the vessel.  The total recovered volume is approximately 144,300 gallons.   

Future Plans and Recommendations:

  • Decontamination will begin on vessels and equipment this weekend. 
  • Vessels will move to the Southeast Lighterage docks in Auke Bay, where they will be boomed and cleaned with high pressure water and powered scrubbers. 
  • The oiled response equipment will either be decontaminated locally by SEAPRO responders or shipped to Seattle for decontamination. 
  • Equipment to be decontaminated locally will be placed within secondary containment prior to decontamination.  Contaminated water will be treated and disposed of in accordance with State and federal regulations.
  • Once equipment has been decontaminated or properly contained for shipment, it will be returned to its home port.

News Releases, Fact Sheets and Other Media Content

Technical Information

  • Princess Kathleen Spill Response Map
    • An  interactive web map show priorities identified by State and federal resources agencies for protection of salmon streams in the unlikely event of a large spill from the Princess Kathleen. Response equipment has be pre-positioned near sensitive areas in containers for rapid deployment should a response become necessary. 
    • Use the "i"dentify tool in the upper right corner to see information on features of the map. Click the "Help" link for more instructions.
  • Oil Cleanup Methods (PDF 1.13 MB)
  • Fact Sheets
  • Vessel Model Images -- Global Diving & Salvage is developing a dimensional graphic of the Princess Kathleen in her current state. The graphic will assist Global Diving & Salvage during the fuel volume estimation process. The Unified Command will determine, based on the volume estimations, if they will pursue fuel removal.

An initial image from a model of the vessel and its fuel tanks (green) which will assist Global Diving in estimating fuel volume on board the Princess Kathleen.

This image has the vessel oriented at the angle in which it is currently lying.

A dimensional model of a global divers holding the equipment used to hot tape the bunker oil fuel tanks. During hot taping, heating elements and circulated warm water heat the oil until it is fluid enough to pump. The oil and warm water are pumped into an intermediate tank where the oil is separated from the water. The bunker oil is then transferred into a barge to await disposal.

Dimensional model of the dive platform vessels moored above the wreck of the Princess Kathleen. Model by Global Diving and Salvage.


Images may be downloaded for free and used in publications provided credit is given to the source.

February 18, 2010Historic photos and dive operations conducted 2/18/2010.

March 4, 2010 Open house held March 4, 2010.

March 11, 2010 Dive assessment.

March 15, 2010 Dive assessment operations.

March 16, 2010 Dive assessment operations.

March 18, 2010 Photos taken during the media availability March 18.

March 26-27, 2010 Dive operations, March 26-27, 2010.

April 1, 2010 April 1, 2010 Open House at DIPAC Hatchery.

April 20, 2010 Response Operations.

April 27, 2010 Response Operations.

May 4, 2010 Response Operations.

May 10, 2010 Response Operations.

May 17, 2010 Response Operations.

Mar 18, 2010 Response Operations.

Dive Photos Photos taken by local diver Annette G.E. Smith. NOTE: these photos do not reflect the vessel's current condition.


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