Large dock from tsunami reported floating off Wash. coast

SEATTLE - Officials are closely monitoring the coastal waters off Washington for a large dock that was reported drifting offshore on Friday.

The object is reported to be similar to a dock that was ripped loose during the deadly Japanese tsunami and beached in Oregon in July.

There has been no confirmation of the object and it has not been re-located since its initial report, but federal, tribal, state and local partners are working closely together to monitor the coastal waters for the dock.

On Friday evening, fishermen aboard Fishing Vessel Lady Nancy reported seeing the large dock floating off the Washington state coast, about 16 nautical miles northwest of the Grays Harbor entrance. NOAA is working to determine the object’s trajectory based on the reported location.

Washington State Emergency Management Division is coordinating the state efforts to address this object. Following its Marine Debris Response Plan, the state identified resources and brought in partners to prepare for the response.

As needed, the Quinault Indian Nation will work with the state in response efforts, as will NOAA’s Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, Olympic National Park, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Since Friday, the U.S. Coast Guard has continuously broadcast a safety marine information broadcast alerting mariners of this floating debris.

The Coast Guard also has conducted five searches for the floating debris with an HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter, searching a combined area of 317 square miles.

The government of Japan estimates that the tsunami swept about 5 million tons of debris into the Pacific Ocean and that about 70 percent sank quickly. The remaining 1.5 million tons dispersed far across the North Pacific Ocean in an area roughly three times the size of the lower 48 states.