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Options for raising the James Whalen tug are still being studied

The tug remains submerged in the Kam River, where it sank on May 1.

THUNDER BAY — Nearly three and a half weeks since it  sank, the historic tugboat James Whalen remains submerged in the Kam River.

So far, there's no timetable for a salvage operation.

City officials are still looking into how to best remove the boat from the water and transfer it to a location on land.

Cory Halvorsen – manager of parks and open spaces for the City of Thunder Bay – says "The weight of the tug itself is adding to the amount of time required to confirm the options available to us. There were no immediate options where we could deploy somebody and have it dealt with immediately." 

In an interview Tuesday, he explained that the city is "reaching out to as many local contractors in the area that have the type of equipment, barges and things like that, that might be required. There are some different options, so we want to make sure we're looking at what is available and trying to do it in a timely manner."

Halvorsen said it may be possible to lift the Whalen using a combination of a crane and airbags, but the precise approach still needs to be determined.

Although he stressed that the focus right now is to raise the tug, Halvorsen acknowledged that the city has been in discussions with the Lakehead Transportation Museum Society about relocating it from the Kam River Heritage Park to the Pool 6 site near the Alexander Henry.

He said the boat will have to be inspected and assessed before any decision can be made on a permanent site.

"We want to deal with this as quickly as we can, but it has to be done appropriately. We don't want to mishandle it. We're working on this daily."

Halvorsen said the tug has not shifted since it went under, but divers may need to be sent down to check for possible damage to the hull before an attempt is made to recover it.

"That may be the last bit of information to inform the plan going forward," he said.

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