Port Milwaukee workboat 'Harbor Seagull' sinks in unexpected mishap

NOW: Port Milwaukee workboat ’Harbor Seagull’ sinks in unexpected mishap

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee's Harbor Seagull, a 60-year-old combination icebreaker and work boat, now rests on the bottom of the Milwaukee harbor. Port workers found it sunk next to its dock early Monday, Feb. 22.

The port will bring in a salvage company Tuesday to lift the boat out of the water and put it on a barge.

It will be moved onto land and inspected to figure out what caused it to sink.

The Harbor Seagull's most recent icebreaking assignment may have been her undoing.

"We have provided as needed assistance to the ongoing remediation of the River One project, breaking ice so vessels can get up to River One so that effort can take place," said Port Director Adam Tindall-Schlicht.

The boat is currently sitting under 26 feet of water next to where she was parked. An orange boom to collect any leaking diesel surrounds her location underwater.

"The last time the Harbor Seagull took on water, we were able to dewater it before it fully flooded," said Tindall-Schlicht.

Port employees found her sunk at 5:30 a.m. Monday. They've hired a contractor to lift the boat out of the water on Tuesday. Tindall-Schlicht estimates the salvage and repair bill to cost around $350,000.

"To build a brand new tugboat for Milwaukee harbor, it would cost anywhere between one and $1.2 million," said Tindall-Schlicht.

The boat has been a port workhorse for decades. Besides icebreaking, it removes logs from the river, has scooped up Duckweed, and netted tons of dead fish in the past.

"When we look at the support we provide maritime customers, it is preferable that we have a fleet of two fully functional work boats in the harbor," said Tindall-Schlicht.

The port doesn't know how long it will take to lift the Harbor Seagull out of the water.

It said private companies will be able to provide icebreaking services for the immediate future.

The port will leverage a crane to lift the boat from the water. 

The cause of the sinking is unclear at this time. 

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