Save The River would like to acknowledge and thank those involved in the recovery of the Island Duchess. On Thursday afternoon, August 20, 2020, the tour boat hit a shoal near the Summerland Island group, north of Alex Bay, and began taking on water. All 134 passengers were safely transferred to another Uncle Sam’s tour boat and returned to shore.
Quick response by both the United States and Canadian authorities, local fire departments and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation helped to keep the scene safe and allowed for local marine businesses to create a salvage plan. Hunt Underwater Specialties, Seaway Marine Group and W.D. Bach were all responsible for the salvage operations that led to the Island Duchess safely returning to Alexandria Bay late Thursday Night. During the salvage operation, oil boom was deployed around the tour boat to minimize any water contamination from anything that may have been damaged in the accident.
John Peach, executive director of Save The River Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper, said that at 11:30 am Lt Sean Dolan of US Coast Guard (CG) Alex Bay reported that the Coast Guard and other agencies have boats in the area that can respond to sheens of oil on the water. They expect to do another flyover of the air today.
Anyone wanting to report oil or diesel in the water can call the CG command center at 315-843-9596.
Peach said, “We are fortunate that our outstanding volunteer fire departments were able to respond quickly to the situation. The coordinated response of all the federal and state agencies showed how well we can all work together in an emergency on the water. Having local marine contractors and salvage companies such as Hunt Underwater Specialties, Seaway Marine Group and W.D. Bach in the area is a real benefit in situations like this.”