Work begins to pull sunken barge from San Francisco Bay near Transbay Tube

Wayne Freedman Image
ByWayne Freedman KGO logo
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
A crane housing from a sunken barge is seen on San Francisco Bay on Tuesday, July 11, 2017.
A crane housing from a sunken barge is seen on San Francisco Bay on Tuesday, July 11, 2017.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- What goes up, must come down.

RELATED: Barge used by BART sinks into San Francisco Bay, no damage to Transbay tube

We know that, but here's another version: When dealing with sunken barges on the bottom of San Francisco Bay, what goes down, must come up.

That's how we found ourselves on a Coast Guard boat near the Bay Bridge on Tuesday, near where, on April 7, a 112-foot barge named Vengeance sank in high winds. Vengeance landed atop the very same Trans Bay Tube on which its crew had been performing maintenance work.

Atop, we should note, with 25 feet of bay silt separating the barge from 300,000 riders per day. The Vengeance was leaking oil and had some 4,000 gallons aboard.

Finally, more than three months later, salvage crews have begun hauling it out.

What took so long?

"I never heard this would be over in a couple of days," said Kerry Walsh of Global Diving and Salvage. "I think that was optimistic speculation."

Recovering the barge has not been an easy task. The crane they're using came from Seattle. Divers have worked in water with zero visibility while cutting the barge into three pieces.

Today, they lifted out the first of them -- the crane house.

"It was a mess," Walsh said. "The barge was upside down, crane smashed under the barge. Crane boom on the sea floor."

Imagine a giant erector set smashed by an equally giant 2-year-old, 40 feet under and stuck in the mud.

"It's 900 tons for the three pieces," Wash said. "That's a lot."

Still, not as big as the Titanic.

"No, it's not," countered Walsh. "It's the Vengeance."

Safe to say the Vengeance appears to have gotten some, too.