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M/V New Carissa

On February 4, 1999, the 639-foot M/V New Carissa went hard aground in heavy seas about 150 yards off a stretch of remote beach three miles north of Coos Bay, Oregon.

The ship contained 400,000 gallons of fuel oil, and persisting heavy winds and seas prevented salvage operations from taking place for several days. Although no oil was reported to have initially been released when the vessel was grounded, the Coast Guard set up a Unified Command and contacted the NOAA Scientific Support Coordintor for the Northwest to set up contingency plans in the event of a spill. Initial spill concerns centered around a small colony of endangered western snowy plovers which nested only 800 yards from the grounded vessel.

On February 8, shipboard personnel began observing oil being released by a small crack in the hull and beginning to impact shoreline near the vessel. On February 9, an unsuccessful attempt by a tug to pull the ship off the beach revealed that the vessel had been driven 600 feet further onshore, which then made a full salvage of the ship impossible. The bow section of the ship was successfully scuttled and all remaining oil was removed from the stern section on March 21, but not before nearly 70,000 gallons were released from the vessel.

During the response, OR&R personnel deployed on scene and provided the response team with oil trajectories and weather forecasts; oil characterization analysis and oil spill maps; detailed analysis of wildlife and habitat at risk and the associated maps; and coordinated cleanup efforts and developed cleanup endpoints. The spill impacted Oregon shorelines and led to the deaths of 537 sea birds, however no snowy plovers were affected.