Davy Crockett barge

(Information on this site is considered to be accurate at the time of posting, but is subject to change as new information becomes available.)

Authorities respond to the illegal scrap metal salvage of the flat-deck Barge Davy Crockett on the Columbia River near Camas, Washington, on Jan. 27, 2011.

Summary information

Date of incident:  January 27, 2011

North bank of the Columbia River near Camas, WA

Type of incident: Lube, bunker and diesel oil.
Cause of incident: Damaged derelict vessel.
Responsible party: Federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund
View of the Davy Crockett barge in January 2011

View of the Davy Crockett barge in January 2011.

Status updates

Incident Background

The Washington Department Ecology received reports of oil sheen on the Columbia River near Vancouver, Wash., Jan. 27, 2011, and traced it 11 miles upstream to the 431-foot flat-deck barge Davy Crockett. Reports of sheen were reported as far as 14 miles downstream.

The vessel was partially sunk near the north shore between Vancouver and Camas, Wash., four miles upstream of the I-205 Bridge. The Davy Crockett had begun leaking oil due to improper and unpermitted salvage operations.

Response efforts began immediately to contain oil and stabilize the vessel. The Coast Guard, Washington Department of Ecology and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality are jointly managing the response and salvage effort using the National Incident Management System. 

In mid-February Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp authorized Coast Guard Sector Columbia River to remove and destroy the barge Davy Crockett.  In his authorization memo, Adm. Papp stated that “destruction of this vessel is appropriate to mitigate the threat of continued discharge of oil, oil water mixtures and hazardous substances into the waterway.”

March 19, 2013

Bret A. Simpson was sentenced on March 18, 2013 to four months in prison, eight months of home detention, 100 hours of community service and three years of supervised release.  Read more...

January 28, 2013

The Washington Department of Ecology is fining Bret A. Simpson and his company Principle Metals LLC $405,000 for spilling oil and 40 days of ongoing environmental harm from continuing oil leaks to the Columbia River from the 431-foot derelict barge Davy Crockett during an illegal in-water scrapping operation.

July 18, 2012

Davy Crockett owner Bret A. Simpson pleaded guilty to two criminal violations of the Clean Water Act in U.S. District Court on July 12, 2012: Failing to report an oil discharge and unlawfully discharging oil into the Columbia River. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 14, 2012.

Last updated 11/23/2011

Incident duration

295 days

  Vessel removed (8/25/11) 211 days
  Cofferdam removed (11/17/11) 295 days



Sediment Collected 85.5 cubic yards

Total Oil water mixture recovered to date

1.6 million gallons*

Total steel removed

3.56 million pounds**

Debris & oiled debris removed

1.25 million pounds

Bunker oil recovered

38,397 gallons

Asbestos removed

4,850 pounds


Samples analyzed to date (e.g. water, oil sediment)


Obligated costs to date

$22 million

**This is the weight of the steel after it was cleaned and recycled. Prior figures reported were for uncleaned steel, which reflected a heavier total.
*This figure represents the amount of oily water mixture that has been recovered directly from the barge Davy Crockett during response operations. An initial unrecovered release of an estimated 70 gallons of oil was documented on January 27, 2011 the day the vessel was discovered to be leaking oil.

Environmental Protection

All activities involving the destruction and removal of the Davy Crockett were designed to minimize environmental impacts. The impermeable oil and silt barrier inside the metal cofferdam along with sorbent oil collection booms prevented tar balls and oil sheen from discharging into the Columbia River downstream of the work site. Oil containment boom was deployed outside the cofferdam as a preventative measure in case there is a release of oil from the work site. Additional on-water oil recovery resources and oil containment boom were staged nearby as further protection.

Oil, oily water and contaminated water from the vessel’s holds and tanks were collected throughout the cleanup effort and taken off-site for proper disposal. In addition, wash water from cleaning operations and stormwater collected on the Davy Crockett and work barges was put through an on-site water filtration system and then disposed of through the city of Portland’s wastewater treatment system.

Water quality samples upstream, downstream and inside the cofferdam were being collected on a periodic basis in order to evaluate the effectiveness of work activities to minimize water pollution.

Sediment samples around the Davy Crockett and inside the cofferdam were also collected periodically during the project. After the vessel was removed from the river, deconstruction debris, contaminated sediments, metal slag and scale (metal “flakes”) were removed by divers using hand-operated dredging equipment. A final set of sediment samples were collected at the conclusion of the 38-day dredging operation.

News releases

Media contact

Ty Keltner, Media contact, ty.keltner@ecy.wa.gov, 360-515-6868