Emerald Sea Photography
The tug "Orca'' sank about 9
September 20, 1999 at a mooring buoy in 65 feet of water
about 2,000 feet north of the Port Hadlock Marina. Wind
pushed oil from the wreck into the marina, causing a bit of
a “stir” in the local newspapers.
The tug was the smaller of two powerless vessels that had
been removed from the Marine Science Center pier at Fort
Warden State Park and secured to a mooring buoy off of Port
Hadlock. The wind came up out of the north, causing the Orca to sink
unexpectedly and the larger barge that was tied up to it,
floated off into deeper water and sank.
Today, the Orca rests in 65 feet of water, just north of the Port Hadlock marina. Its location is well marked on NOAA chart 18464 (as a “WK” obstruction at the very south end of the map) and for a change, the position on the chart is spot on. This gem of a 45’ tug sits upright on the bottom, with the bow pointing north, and with the towing bits and windlass still ready for their next towing assignment. The roof of the wheelhouse has collapsed, so the bridge now resembles an open flying bridge, but the Orca is in remarkably good shape. Much of the blue paint still outlines the portholes on the cabin and the smoke stack, mast and lights still reach for the sun.
The steering quadrant and steering cables (see photo to the left) are exposed and give the visiting diver an interesting insight into how the tug’s large rudder (which is still in place) was controlled while the Orca herded barges, logs and ships into position at the docks she once worked.
The wreck of the Orca is a really pleasant dive site located about 360 yards due east of the Hadlock Boat Ramp. The tug is providing a nice artificial reef for countless marine critters and is truly a pleasurable dive for visiting divers.