POULSBO — An abandoned tugboat in Liberty Bay was towed away by the previous owner of the vessel on Friday, April 6.
Somehow “Victory” seemed an ill-fitting name for the derelict tug as it was towed out of the bay by the Salmon Bay Barge Lines tug “Mauna Loa.” The vessel had been anchored in Liberty Bay since late 2016, acquired by Daniel J. Webb earlier that year from Salmon Bay Barge Lines.
It wasn’t the first time Webb had abandoned a boat either. In 2015 Webb acquired the 93-foot “John N. Cobb” for $1 from the Seattle Maritime Academy and subsequently abandoned it at the Port of Port Townsend, causing significant costs to the port. According to Eric Toews, director of planning and in-house counsel for the Port of Port Townsend, Webb shouldn’t have been able to acquire the Cobb in the first place.
“When you’re dealing with vessels of that size and age, there are different statutory provisions that apply and it establishes a fairly high bar to ensure that the purchaser of the vessel has the capability to take it on and also has the resources and insurance as well,” Toews said in a 2017 interview. “I think the Port of Port Townsend’s point of view is that Seattle Maritime Academy failed to do that and that the vessel was conveyed to Mr. Webb without their having exercised due diligence.”
After Webb left the vessel, unable to pay for repairs or moorage, the port had to recoup the costs and find a new owner for the boat. “We racked up a considerable bill,” Toews said. “My recollection is that it was well in excess of $100,000.” As a result, Webb was banned from all Port of Port Townsend facilities.
While both Webb and Salmon Bay Barge Lines refused to comment about the removal of the tugboat from the bay, Webb admitted in a February interview, that he was responsible for abandoning the John N. Cobb at the Port of Port Townsend. In the interview Webb also stated that he was the registered owner of “Victory,” adding that he had planned to move the boat before March 1, 2018.
According to officials with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, a law passed in 2014 — which ascribes “secondary liability” to the sellers of vessels over 65 feet in length or more than 40 years old — was brought to the attention of Salmon Bay Barge Lines. This is the first time the Department of Natural Resources has referred to this law in order to prompt the removal of a derelict vessel.
It also appears that “Victory” will not simply be resold and moved to another bay either. DNR officials say Salmon Bay Barge Lines have expressed their intent to demolish the vessel.
—Nick Twietmeyer is a reporter with Kitsap News Group. Nick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org