A heavy tugboat dragged the bow of the New Carissa through a stubborn sand bar late Monday night, breaching the final obstacle that had kept the ship pinned to the coast.
Crews rejoiced at the ship's departure. Experts had feared that sand bars would prolong the ship's removal.
For most of the time the ship was grounded, it leaked fuel oil into the water and onto the beach. The cold ocean water, however, has turned the remaining 130,000 gallons of oil aboard the bow as hard as pavement. Since the towing began Friday, there has been no appreciable spill.
The plan is to drag the Japanese-owned freighter 200 miles offshore and then sink it in deep water. A Coast Guard gunboat will open fire on it, and send it plunging thousands of feet to a watery grave.
A tugboat pulled the ship's large bow section about 35 feet on Sunday, enough to clear it off the beach. But the bow nosed over a sandba,r and the ship's tail section wound up in a gully.
The 640-foot freighter ran aground Feb. 4 while waiting to enter Coos Bay for a load of wood chips. At least 70,000 gallons of fuel leaked into the ocean within sight of nesting habitat for the Western snowy plover, a threatened shore bird.
A Navy explosives team set the ship afire in a spectacular blast on Feb. 11. The burning ship broke in two by the next morning.
The ship originally held 400,000 gallons of fuel oil.