Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Coos Bay Harbor Entrance Limitations Imposed

By Mark Edward Nero

On Jan. 29, the Coast Guard captain of the port for all ports in Oregon and southern Washington announced limitations on the movement of deep-draft vessels across the Coos Bay Harbor entrance, citing possible debris in the water from the commercial fishing vessel Sara Jo that capsized near the north jetty last week.

The announcement came four days after the 49-foot fishing vessel Sara Jo became disabled and capsized on the Coos Bay bar, leaving two fishermen reportedly injured and one deceased. The vessel was destroyed in the incident, but Coast Guard waterway managers believe debris from the ship could threaten the safety of certain mariners transiting the area.

Two Panamanian-flagged bulk carriers were immediately affected by the closure: the 640-foot Stellar Stream II and the 656-foot Andalucian Zephyr were notified and instructed not to transit the area until a sonar survey of the channel is conducted this week to determine that the entrance is safe.

“The continued flow of commerce is a priority, but my foremost concern as captain of the port is to ensure the safety of all crews and vessels that come in and out of Oregon and Washington waters,” said Capt. Dan Travers, captain of the port for Sector Columbia River and Sector North Bend.

“I will reevaluate the closure as soon our surveys confirm the channel is clear of navigation hazards,” Travers said.

Although the closure only impacts deep-draft vessels, the Coast Guard has urged all mariners to navigate the area with caution and keep an eye out for debris.

Updated river entrance observations and closures is available at the National Weather Service’s Western US Bar Observation site: http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/pqr/marine/BarObs.php