By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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A contractor for the Department of Natural Resources hooked up to the derelict vessel New Star on Friday morning and successfully transported the 180-foot-long, 325-metric-ton hulk to Stabbard Maritime just inside the Ballard locks that night, DNR spokesman Bryan Flint said Saturday.
The crew of the Island Spirit, owned by Island Tug and Barge, got to the Ballard locks at about 8:30 p.m. after a roughly eight-hour trip, Flint said.
The DNR will now go out for bid for a private contractor to dismantle the New Star, Flint said.
DNR’s costs of the towing and dismantling will be recouped through the sale of the vessel’s salvaged steel and through the vessel’s owner, George Marincin, Flint said, adding that he did not know Saturday what the total cost would be.
Marincin,who could not be reached for comment Saturday, has said he lost about $100,000 on the operation in which he intended to tow the vessel to Mexico to be dismantled and sold for scrap.
Soon after the New Star arrived, some residents named it for the enemy base in “Star Wars.”
“It’s a beautiful morning in Port Ludlow, and not just because the sun is shining and you can see the Olympic Mountains,” said Darren O’Brien, who was filming the operation Friday for www.pacificnwboater.com.
“The Death Star is on its way out, finally.”
The New Star’s last trip Friday put the cap on a sequence of events that began Oct. 1, when a tugboat captain hauling the vessel on the first leg of a planned trip to Mexico contacted Port Ludlow Marina Manager Kori Ward to ask for permission to dock the vessel.
Ward denied permission but relented after the captain told her he would then anchor it in the middle of the bay, the marina manager said.
Ward allowed the vessel under the condition that it would only stay for about a week.
The stay lengthened as Marincin, president of VicMar Inc. of Tacoma, failed to find an alternative moorage.
On Oct. 21, he said he planned to tow the ship to Neah Bay, but the next day, Port of Neah Bay Director Bill Parkin said the New Star was not welcome at Makah Marina.
On Dec. 3, Marincin was quoted as saying the ship would head to Astoria, Ore.
Port of Astoria CEO Hank Bynaker declined to provide moorage for the vessel.
DNR took possession of the vessel Jan. 4 and put its removal on the fast track.
On Friday morning, a small group of residents gathered on the small peninsula across from the marina to watch.
“We saw it coming in, being towed and moving back and forth,” Bill Masters said.
“I said to my wife, ‘If the tug leaves, we are in trouble,’ and then it left.”
Said Pete Joseph, a retired Coast Guard captain: “We’ve waited a long time to get it moved.
“It never should have been brought into the marina. This is a recreational facility and not intended for industrial moorage.”
Joseph had worried about what might have happened if a severe windstorm broke the New Star’s mooring and it collided with fuel tanks or other boats.
O’Brien said Ward made the right choice, even though there were consequences.
“She had to make a choice based on the worst-case scenario,” O’Brien said.
“If it was left in the bay and there were high winds, it would have blown through the marina and taken out a lot of boats.
“In the end, she made the right decision even though it caused a lot of headaches. It was the lesser of two evils.”
Roger Slade, owner of Vessel Assist Port Hadlock, said Marincin owed him about $80,000 for watching the New Star during weather conditions, money that Slade does not expect to recover.
He had said earlier that Marincin had paid about 10 percent of what was owed.
“He hasn’t been totally irresponsible,” Slade said then. “He just got caught up in circumstances that were beyond his control. But so did I.”
Ward was on hand Friday but offered no opinions about the vessel’s departure.
“I’m just grateful this is over,” she said.
Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at email@example.com.