New Carissa down to final pieces

COOS BAY — Salvage crews have lifted the final big piece of the New Carissa shipwreck out of the sand on a beach near Coos Bay.

The Titan Salvage crew hoped to cut up the 200-ton chunk of the wreckage, believed to be the aft part of the engine, and load the pieces onto a barge by Wednesday, when the forecast is for rough weather.

Officials of the Florida-based company said three small metal pieces remain underwater, and divers will try to reach those when the weather improves.

The wood chip freighter ran aground in February 1999 and broke apart, leaving about half of the ship stuck in the sand on a beach near Coos Bay.

The other half washed ashore near Waldport on the central coast. It eventually was towed off of the beach and had to be sunk with a Navy torpedo.

"What I like most about it," said salvor Kenny Kruckenberg, "is that every single (salvage) company I worked for or thought about working for said it was completely unsalvageable."

The crew will inspect the inside, blast out sand and take off some small pieces to lighten the final bit of steel. Harris said the last section will weigh in at about 150 tons.

Titan still has to retrieve a few pieces under the water, but once the 200-ton piece is gone, nothing will be visible from shore.

But scrap metal prices have fallen from about $325 per ton at the start of the job to about $160 per ton.

Even with the decline, salvage managers say the rusting steel could net more than $330,000. Removal work began this summer under a $25 million court judgment against the ship's Japanese owners.

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