Three weeks after it capsized in its namesake river, the 87’ paddle wheeler Spirit of Sacramento was raised and removed in a joint operation by the Coast Guard and other agencies.

Seattle-based Global Diving & Salvage Inc. worked with the Coast Guard, California Department of Fish and Wildlife's Office of Spill Prevention and Response, Army Corps of Engineers, and others to start the operation Wednesday afternoon near Bethel Island in the Sacramento-San Joaquin river delta. A crane arrived on site around 3 p.m., and work was expected to take 24 hours, according to the Coast Guard.

The former tour boat had been retired from passenger service since the 2009 bankruptcy of Sacramento Yacht Charters LLC, according to local news media. It capsized in the river Sept. 3 and two people on board escaped unharmed. A small amount of diesel was recovered after the accident, and the riverboat had been under surveillance for any pollution danger. The goal of the removal was to get the wreck out of the river without a spill.

After righting and dewatering the vessel, it was to be towed to the Army Corps of Engineers facility in Sausalito for removal of the oil and fuel on board. Containment boom was deployed in the event of oil or fuel leaking, and workers stood by with skimming equipment. Boom was also placed in predetermined locations to protect wildlife and sensitive areas.

The waterway surrounding the Spirit of Sacramento was closed Wednesday morning and would be reopened when the operation was complete, the Coast Guard said.


Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.