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Beached Ship Heads To Sea - Again

The oil-laden front section of the New Carissa was towed from the Oregon Coast Monday for the second time in less than a week, CBS Affiliate KOIN-TV reports.

The 420-foot bow was pulled off the shore by the 7,200-horsepower tug, Sea Victory, one of the most powerful on the West Coast. High tides and a moderate offshore storm made for ideal conditions.

The tug again tried to tow the section 200 miles out to sea, where it is to be sunk. The journey is expected to take at least two days.

The bow, still holding an estimated 130,000 gallons of heavy oil, ran aground again Wednesday after breaking loose from the Sea Victory in storm churned waters 50 miles off shore.

This time, storms should not be a problem, with wind expected to decrease and seas running no more than 15 feet, said Bill Milwee, salvage consultant to the ship's Japanese owners. "There is no reason we should part a tow line in this weather,'' Milwee said.

Once the bow reaches its intended burial site, plans call for a Coast Guard cutter to use its deck gun to sink the derelict in 12,000 feet of water.

Coast Guard Comdr. Dwayne Penberthy says the trick will be to put enough holes in the bow to sink it without rupturing the fuel tanks; a skimmer boat will be on hand to catch any spills.

The stern has been stranded in an environmentally sensitive area near Coos Bay, where the ship ran aground Feb. 4 during a storm. When it struck the coast the ship was carrying 400,000 gallons of thick bunker oil and diesel fuel.

About half of the oil was burned off by Navy explosives experts a week later, but hours after the fire the ship split in two spilling 70,000 gallons of the gooey substance.

Coast Guard officials have apologized to a Waldport area man who was accused last week of fabricating a hoax that oil from the ship was killing wildlife.

Coast Guard officials said initial reports indicated the oil was different from that carried by the New Carissa. But more recent test results suggest that the ship's oil is indeed washing ashore from the central Oregon Coast to southern Washington. "The birds were oiled, and they were oiled by New Carissa oil,'' said Coast Guard Capt. Mike Hall.