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

emoody@beaufortgazette.comFebruary 7, 2013 

A shrimp boat is seen in this February 2013 file photo after it sank, its mast breaking a section of dock at the Port Royal shrimp dock where it had been moored.

SARAH WELLIVER — Staff photo

A shrimp boat that sank at the Port Royal shrimp dock last week is a hazard for boaters and the dock, and the town manager wants it removed.

"I've been assured by the owner of the boat it will be removed," town manager Van 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, and it is damaging the dock.

Willis said the boat's owner, Mark Smith, has attempted to refloat the boat but without success and intends to make a final attempt. Smith has also contacted salvage companies, Willis said.

Smith said he does not know why the boat sank. He said he is working with the town and will keep officials notified of his progress and plans.

"It's got to float, one way or another," he said. "I don't know what I'll do with it."

Willis said that if a salvage company removes the boat, either the owner or town would have to pay for the work. However, if the boat is worth enough money, the salvage company could take ownership of it instead.

The town has asked Smith for a timeline of his plans, Willis said.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control and the U.S. Coast Guard have both inspected it and found no indication of a fuel leak, Willis said.

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 boat that sank there seven years ago.

"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 town "inherited" the boat that sank seven years ago 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. Its remnants are still on the creek bottom.

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