Owner of 1 sinking Tacoma ship identified

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) - The Coast Guard and state agencies are working to remove two failing ships in Tacoma, but the work is complicated by ownership issues.

The 167-foot Helena Star sank Friday at a marina on the Hylebos Waterway, leaving its stern sticking out of the water and its mast leaning on the 130-foot Golden West, causing that vessel to list.

Residual fuel from the Helen Star was being contained Monday in an oil boom, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Nathan Bradshaw. Both ships had fuel removed last year after they were identified as problems and placed on a list of derelict vessels the state would like to remove.

Owners are responsible for cleanup and salvage costs - if they can be identified.

An owner of the Golden West has been identified, said Melissa Ferris with the Department of Natural Resources Derelict Vessel Removal Program. Investigators are still looking a paperwork trying to identify an owner of the Helena Star, she said Monday.

"No one is stepping up," she said, and the ownership is a tangle of transfers and liens.

The ships are not on state aquatic land, she said, and the state has run out of money in the current budget for removing large ships.

With uncertain ownership and funding, it will likely be some time before the ships are removed.

The Helena Star also made news in 1978 when the Coast Guard intercepted it off the Washington coast with 37 tons of marijuana on board.