JACKSONPORT, AR (KAIT) – Officials with the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism continued Thursday to work on salvaging the Mary Woods No. II, a retired towboat parked at Jacksonport State Park. According to Mark Ballard, Park Superintendent, construction crews will begin dismantling the vessel in the coming days to help hoist it from the murky water.
"What we've got is a company that's been brought in, they're pumping the hull. they're pumping out of 16 different compartments but they're having some problems getting to certain locations on the boat," said Ballard, who has been working at Jacksonport for 20 years.
Ballard said the 157-ton ship is not rising because the super-structure on top of the hull has started caving in. Ballard said the ship is becoming more of a danger to salvage.
"We're going to start from the rear where we're having problems getting to those certain locations and we'll raise the boat up at that point," said Ballard. "When we tried to raise it, we brought it up to kind of a 45 degree angle and they were trying to get the other side to rise."
Ballard said he would like to see the ship restored in the future. He said he wasn't surprised to see the extent of damage when it was partially lifted.
"It started to shift when it sank but it shifted even more as they tried to bring it up," said Ballard. "As a result, things started to break and it ended up coming apart."
"Its' in a position that it's not designed to be in, and it's going to, things are going to happen," said Ballard.
Ballard said the ship is in the worst condition he's ever seen it.
"I've seen this boat hit by a tornado and we've restored it and now unfortunately I've had to see it in this condition and this is the worst of all," said Ballard. "We got to think positive and not be negative about this situation. As bad and as horrible and as heart breaking as it is, we're going to come back and make this thing a reality for reconstruction."