new carissa

This hunk of rusting metal is what was left of a cargo ship called the New Carissa, which wrecked off Coos Bay, Oregon in February 1999. This was a pretty big deal when it happened. Headed for Coos Bay to pick up a load of wood chips, the Coast Guard warned the crew that conditions were too stormy to permit the ship to come into the harbor, so they anchored it off the coast during the night–but they used too short an anchor chain. The ship dragged its anchor and eventually ran aground, spilling fuel oil onto the coast.

Repeated attempts to recover the ship failed. Eventually authorities tried lighting the fuel on fire to burn it off, thus making the ship lighter, but that didn’t work either. The ship was broken in half but sinking the bow section proved much harder than the Coast Guard anticipated. Eventually it worked, but the stern section–the piece visible in this Google Earth photo–remained stuck on the rocks for years. Ultimately the remnants of the New Carissa were removed piece by piece, with the last part above water being removed in 2008. This shot from Google Earth dates from June 2005.

There was talk of leaving the ship where it was as a tourist attraction and local landmark, much like the wreck of another ship, the Peter Iredale, became in the decades after it wrecked in 1906. Alas, the New Carissa is now gone, with no part of the ship’s remains visible above water. But for a time it was quite  a famous wreck, not unlike that of the American Star.

The coordinates are  43°23’54.29″ N, 124°18’43.62″ W. You can read more about the wreck here.