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Press Release | June 16, 2023

PHOTO RELEASE: Coast Guard, California Department of Fish and Wildlife conduct removal operations of sunken passenger vessel following rescue near Santa Cruz Island    

Coast Guard District Eleven

SAN PEDRO, Calif. — The Coast Guard and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) have initiated a removal operation following the successful rescue of 14 people who abandoned the charter passenger vessel Sea Jay near Santa Cruz Island.    

The operation is led by a seasoned salvage master and supported by a crew of four experienced salvage technicians and divers. Two dedicated recovery vessels, equipped with lift bags, dewatering equipment, and custom rigging, are prepared to handle the vessel recovery. An additional team of three technicians equipped with an oil spill trailer containing 2,000 feet of boom stands ready to respond to potential oil spills.   

During the 21-hour removal operation, divers will first assess the underwater condition of the Sea Jay, gathering crucial information to help guide the subsequent steps. Once assessed, the team will then refloat the vessel using dedicated recovery vessels equipped with lift bags, dewatering equipment, and custom rigging. After successfully refloating, the next priority is to stabilize the vessel to prevent any further damage or sinking. Once stabilized, the Sea Jay will be moved away from Santa Cruz Island to ensure the safety of the local environment. The vessel will then be relocated to a safe harbor, where any products aboard the Sea Jay will be offloaded. Throughout this complex operation, the U.S. Coast Guard and California OSPR will prioritize the safety of the divers, the efficiency of the operation, and the minimization of environmental impact. 

Observers have spotted a sheen near the fully submerged and anchored vessel. The vessel's diesel fuel tanks have a total capacity of 220 gallons.    

"Throughout the removal operations, our primary focus remains on safety, efficiency, and environmental protection," said Coast Guard Capt. Ryan Manning, the Federal On-Scene Coordinator. "We're committed to acting swiftly and safely, minimizing environmental impact and prioritizing the wellbeing of all involved. It's a complex operation, but we're prepared to handle it with the utmost professionalism and care."  

The cause of the incident is currently under investigation.