With a coastline longer than that of the Lower 48 states combined, the State of Alaska has many coastal and riverine communities accessible only by water means and located off of the road network. As a result, these communities see considerable marine and riverine vessel traffic. While still a young state, Alaska has become home to an ever aging fleet of vessels due to federal and state fishing rationalization programs, economic downturns, the inevitable aging and increased maintenance costs of these waterborne vessels, and increased requirements of vessel regulations and permits. Taken all together, many of these vessels have become uneconomical to operate as intended and therefore do not move and stay moored in a public harbor or anchored over public or state tidelands. These vessels form an increasing number of derelict and abandoned vessels throughout Alaska’s coast and rivers. Without a clear and pro-active response strategy and program for dealing with abandoned and derelict vessels (ADV) in public waters, the number of abandoned and derelict vessels will continue to increase and will leave the public to pay for the increased risk of damage to the natural environment.

 Sound Developer, Cordova 2009

Sound Developer, Cordova 2009

By 2025, the Alaska fleet will include roughly 3,100 vessels between 28’ and 59’ that are more than 45 years old...the Alaska fleet also includes 75 passenger vessels, tugs, and barges over 50 years old...”
— Trends & Opportunities in the Alaska Maritime Industrial Support Sector, McDowell Group (2014)

In 2014, Alaska Clean Harbors with the support of Cook Inletkeeper began facilitating an ad-hoc Abandoned & Derelict Vessel Task Force with stakeholders from around the state. The purpose of the Task Force was to bring together state and federal agencies, municipalities and other interested stakeholders to address ADV in Alaska in a coordinated manner and identify long-term needs for prevention and effective management of ADV around Alaska.

SB92: critical updates to alaska's derelict vessel law!

On March 10, 2017 Senator Peter Micciche introduced Senate Bill 92 Vessels: Registration/Titles; Derelicts. This bill takes the feedback and revisions drafted by the Task Force and will be a huge step forward for Alaska and our ability to track, manage and prevent derelict vessels. Email Rachel at to get updates on the Bill. You can read it's full text and see its progress at the Alaska Legislature's website.

adv task force newsletters

Issue #3 Summer 2016
Issue #2 Summer 2015
Issue #1 Summer 2014

Alaska adv resources

Vessel of concern (VOC) reporting form
       VOC Instruction page

Impoundment resources for municipalities

Alaska Case Studies

House Concurrent Resolution 53: Relating to abandoned vessels on the beaches of Alaska (2/12/1990)

Meeting summaries


April 28
February 11


October 27
August 19
June 17
March 10


September 30
May 21
February 6

Alaska Derelict vessels in the news

Feds say shipowner owes $1.65M for spill cleanup (Law360, March 7, 2017)

In a first, state sues company over an abandoned barge in a slough near Bethel (ADN, Dec. 19, 2016)

Abandoned vessels litter Alaska's shorelines while officials work on a fix (ADN, Sept. 28, 2016)

Frustration lingers over two derelict tugboats in Adak (ADN, May 20, 2016)

What can be done about Alaska's derelict vessels? (APRN Talk of Alaska, May 13, 2016)

'The Challenger is gone' (KTOO, March 11, 2016)

Slideshow: Tugboat Challenger refloated and moved to downtown waterfront (KTOO, Feb. 23, 2016)

Sunken tug Challenger to be raised and destroyed (KTOO, Feb. 5, 2016)

Empire Editorial: Strong action needed to avoid repeat of Challenger sinking (Juneau Empire, October 15, 2015)

My Turn: Responsibility for abandoned and derelict vessels in Alaska (Juneau Empire, Opinion, Oct. 8, 2015)

Sunken barge irks Kuskoswim residents (APRN, July 15, 2014)

House votes unanimously on ghost ship bill (KTOO, April 9, 2013)

Problems plagued fish processing vessel that went hard aground on Alaska's Kodiak Island (Oregon Live/AP, March 18, 2013)

Sunken vessels lifted, removed from Jakolof Bay (KBBI, Jan. 25, 2013)

Derelict ship causes ammonia scare (Newsminer/AP, Jan. 2, 2013)

Cordova harbor saga ends: Polluted, abandoned vessel finally removed (ADN, Dec. 28, 2011)

Derelict ships cause problems in Seldovia, Homer harbors (Homer News, Feb. 25, 2009)

Video footage of Steamboat Slough, near Bethel, Alaska, taken by Curtis Mann, Orutsararmiut Native Council and compiled by Rachel Lord, Derelict Vessel Task Force facilitator

 Adak, April 2016 Photo provided by ADNR

Adak, April 2016 Photo provided by ADNR

 Port Graham Bay. Photo provided by ADEC

Port Graham Bay. Photo provided by ADEC

 Polar Bear, Cordova Photo provided by ADNR

Polar Bear, Cordova Photo provided by ADNR

 Stately Runner, Southeast Photo provided by ADNR

Stately Runner, Southeast Photo provided by ADNR