Authorities removing abandoned, condemned boats from Charleston waters

VIDEO: Authorities removing abandoned, condemned boats from Charleston waters
Source: WCSC
Source: WCSC
Source: WCSC
Source: WCSC

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - For the past week crews have been removing abandoned and condemned boats in the Ashley River and Charleston Harbor in a multi-agency partnership.

"Derelict vessels are a chronic problem in the Charleston area," said Dan Burger, the Director of the Coastal Services Division at the Department of Health and Environment Control.

Since 2004 over 100 boats have been removed from South Carolina's coastline.

Federal, state, local and private groups joined forces in the effort to help make our waterways cleaner and safer.

"We're very, very careful not to create an incentive to encourage improper responsibility on the part of boat owners," Burger said. "So we exhaust
all available enforcement measures before we use scarce grant resources for direct removal operations."

The funding for the project happening in the Lowcountry comes from NOAA, offering a grant award to South Carolina Seagrant Consortium, DHEC, the city of Charleston, and the Charleston City Marina, totaling $134,000.

So far eight boats have been removed in the last week; Tuesday crews worked to retrieve the ninth.

"We have a number of vessels that we're very aware of that are submerged," Burger said.

"The boat we're working on is approximately 37 feet long," said Charleston Harbor Police Sgt. Chad Womack.

Crews were able to remove the boat from the water by use of a crane on a barge, but leading up to it was a process requiring tracking, paperwork, and investigating before the removal can take place.

"We're aware of them, we track them, we assess their potential environmental impact," Burger said. "When funding sources become available we prioritize the vessels for removal, based on their impact to the environment and safe recreational use to the waterways."

DHEC is working with its partners to determine why boats in Charleston continue to be abandoned in the open water.

All boats removed from the water are broken down and taken to an area landfill.

It's usually extremely difficult to track owners down, but if they are able to, there are fines that will come with the removal.

Meanwhile, DHEC is asking for your assistance in tracking down abandoned and derelict boats (ADVs). is a website/mobile app that lets you report ADVs. A picture of the boat is needed as the first step in the process. The report asks for the time, date, as well as the name of the boat and a boat number if the latter are visible. It will then ask you for any additional information about the ADV, and a location as the final step.

This app is used not only in South Carolina, but Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

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