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  • Writer's pictureGayle Albertini

The coast is clear! ADV gone.

What is an ADV? An ADV is an abandoned and disabled vessel. And that is what we have had in Northwest Creek across from Northwest Creek Marina for almost two years.

Thank you, Olwen and Bill Jarvis, for the photos you took from your waterfront home during the process.

Background: A barge and 24,000 lb. excavator sank in January of 2021 in the channel across from Northwest Creek Marina due to a contractor's negligence. The sunken debris caused obstruction in our navigational channels, damaged our ecosystems, and diminished the recreational value of our surrounding area. It also contained fuel and hazardous materials, which leaked into the surrounding water.

"Though the legal definition of Abandoned and Derelict Vessels (ADVs) varies, vessels in significant disrepair that may pose a threat to the public or the environment are often considered ADV. "Derelict" frequently refers to vessels that are dilapidated with an identifiable owner, while "abandoned" vessels are those where the owner is unknown or has surrendered rights of ownership."1

On the day it sank, Jennifer Gudaitis, FH community manager, notified N.C. Wildlife Commission, CAMA, Army Corps of Engineers, Commissioner Tom Mark, the Board of Directors, and the Coast Guard.

Harbour residents and Coast Guard Auxiliary members continued to report navigational dangers, leaks, debris floating, and tires and fenders floating to the surface. The crane boom broke loose in a windstorm and caused additional hazardous navigational problems.

After several months of chasing the problem, Jennifer Gudaitis confirmed that N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission started the excavation process on a state level. Fall of 2021, Jennifer transferred the efforts to board member Doug King, the 2021 Waterfront Liaison for FHPOA. Doug King and Commissioner Tom Mark continued to follow up.

September of 2022, N.C. Wildlife Commission contacted Jenifer Gudaitis asking for specific details on the position and coordinates of the ADV and assured her that the removal was close.

In January 2023, the removal process started. The NC Wildlife Commission hired the "Dead Cow" vessel* to lift the barge and excavator out of the water. Craig Cannon, the owner of the "Dead Cow" vessel, has 35 years of experience in wreck removals. Cannon is the diver who attached 6 lift bags to the wreck. At his first underwater inspection, most of the barge was buried in 6 feet of mud, and the water temperature at the barge level was 34 degrees. He dove into the wreck and attached six flotation pillows and chains. After that, the process calls for slow and steady removal. The pillows gradually lift the wreckage to the surface. As the wreck surfaces, Cannon uses the chains to continue the process. Gradual is the key because if pulled out too quickly, the wreck could break apart. That would, of course, be another huge problem. It took two weeks to remove the ADV due to the cold-water temperature and conditions. When the debris was pulled from the water, Cannon used the former boat ramp area off Harbourside Drive to stage the removal by land.

Cannon thanks and compliments our FHPOA president, Phil Hewett, for his support and cooperation during the process.
Cannon also appreciates Jeremy McConnell, Northwest Creek Marina's general manager, for allowing him to keep the "Dead Cow" at Northwest Creek Marina. It saved Cannon many hours by not relaunching the "Dead Cow" each time.
McConnell commented on the project, "Thank you, Craig Cannon, for a professional job well done. He used caution and safety during the whole process. We are very appreciative to have the wreck removed from our channel."

But now, the coast is clear – so to speak. Thank you to everyone who contributed their time and energy to make our water safe again!

* "Dead Cow" is a 53' keel pilot boat initially used in the Boston Harbor as an ice breaker. She has a V-berth with a small galley and has an 1100-mile range.


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