Recovering Derelict Vessels
Derelict or abandoned vessels put public safety and the health of our marine and fresh waters at risk. DNR's Derelict Vessel Removal Program is the state's key mechanism for addressing the problem of derelict or abandoned vessels in Washington's waters, and has been cited as a model for other jurisdictions seeking to deal with the problem of sunken or neglected watercraft.
Since the program was instituted in 2002, more than 580 abandoned or neglected vessels have been removed from Washington waterways.
Thanks to a $4.5 million infusion from the legislature for the 2013-15 biennium, DNR’s Derelict Vessel Removal Program was able to remove several larger vessels that were threatening navigation and the environment. These large, abandoned hulks included the Helena Star (costing $1,158,608 to remove); the Murph, ($622,000), and the Golden West ($588,650). In total, over the course of the biennium, DNR worked with ports and local governments to remove 100 vessels.
Helping recover boats before they become a problem
In 2014, DNR also instituted a new program to help owners of boats in disrepair voluntarily dispose of their boats before they become problems in the water. The Vessel Turn-In Program allows owners of vessels less than 45 long get rid of their boats.
After recovering a number of large, older derelict vessels, DNR established requirements that sellers of boats more than 65 feet long and more than 40 years old provide inspections and that buyers of these boats must provide the Department of Licensing proof they have secured marine insurance.
Working to help local agencies remove problem boats
The following authorizing public entities may request funding from the program to address derelict or abandoned vessels within their jurisdictions:
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission
Metropolitan park districts
Cities, towns, or counties with ownership, management, or jurisdiction over the aquatic lands where the vessel is located.
DNR can assist those entities in funding removal in the following ways:
Reimbursement of up to 90% of the cost of removal and
Remaining 10% of the cost can be in the form of “in-kind” services.
Authorized public entities not able to undertake the removal of a
derelict vessel may ask DNR to assume the lead.
Priority for the use of funds is for vessels in danger of breaking up, sinking, or blocking a navigational channel, or vessels that present a risk to human health, safety or the environment.
For more information see the Derelict Vessel Removal Program Guidelines. Sample custody postings are included in the Guidelines.
How to work with DNR to remove derelict vessels
Most of the work to remove and dispose of derelict and abandoned vessels on state-owned aquatic lands is done by private contractors. Information on bidding on derelict vessel removal contracts can be found here.
You can see a list of vessels currently pending custody action here.