Passenger Vessel Freed

Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Armed with binoculars, telescopes and cameras, spectators on March 26 documented the play-by-play of the afternoon freeing of the cruise ship Empress of the North. Since the morning of March 24, the 360-foot sternwheeler was lodged into a Columbia River sandbar about 350 yards from the shores of Washougal. At 3:36 p.m. on March 26, two Coast Guard tugboats led the ship to the Cascade General Portland Shipyard on Swan Island, where the ship will be assessed for damage, reported. For most of the weekend, the docks in this city of 10,100 were filled with people who had the same excuse -- nothing better to do. On March 25, crews emptied about 20,000 gallons of fuel to lighten the ship. The next day, they waited for high tide to dislodge the ship's bow from the sandbar. The ship's 258 crew and passengers were evacuated on March 24. No one was injured and none of the fuel leaked into the Columbia. The cause of the accident is unknown, but a combination of wind, water currents and traffic are being investigated as potential causes. (Source:

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