Shrimp boat sinks at Port Royal dock; town wants it removed

emoody@beaufortgazetteFebruary 7, 2013 

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A shrimp boat is shown here Thursday afternoon after it sank, its mast breaking a section of dock at the Port Royal shrimp dock where it had been moored.

SARAH WELLIVER

A shrimp boat sank at the Port Royal shrimp dock, and town officials are trying to work with the owner to remove it.

Town manager Van Willis said he has contacted the state's environmental agency, the Coast Guard and a salvage company about removing the boat.

"I’ve been assured by the owner of the boat it will be removed," Willis said. "However, I’m creating backup plans to make that happen."

The boat is resting on the bottom of Battery Creek and can be seen from shore. Willis said it is causing navigation problems for boaters because it is on the creek side of the dock, and it is damaging the dock.

Willis said the boat's owner, Mark Smith, has attempted to refloat the boat without success and intends to make a final attempt. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control and the U.S. Coast Guard have both inspected it and are not worried about leaks, Willis said.

However, local fisherman Mike Burke is worried the boat will not be removed, and that it will be left to rot and fall apart like a previous boat that sank.

"I’ve been here all my life. I’ve fished these rivers and creeks, and I’ve seen this happen two times now," he said. "... It’s just something that needs to be addressed."

The other boat sank about seven years ago, and the town "inherited" it when it signed a lease with the S.C. Ports Authority to operate the shrimp docks, Willis said. The boat had been stripped of everything of value and "completely fell apart" when it sank, he said. It remains on the creek bottom.

Check back with The Beaufort Gazette and The island Packet for more details and follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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