Phoenix International Holdings, Inc. (Phoenix) announced the successful video inspection of the sunken tugboat, William H. McAllister, lying in 160 ft. of water in Lake Champlain. This project demonstrates another cost effective application for the Phoenix designed, battery powered, mini-ROV, xBot G3. This man-portable, versatile ROV is capable of conducting lengthy underwater excursions or diving to water depths of 20,000 ft. in support of projects conducted in hazardous environments or in highly restricted spaces. Past xBot projects have included pipeline and water tunnel inspections, deep ocean wreck penetrations, and archaeological expeditions.
William H. McAllister ran aground then sank 47 years ago on November 17, 1963. Given a fuel tank capacity of 14,000 gallons, the sunken tugboat represents a potential source of pollution to Lake Champlain, and is therefore of on-going concern to Lake residents, the EPA and U.S. Coast Guard. It is unknown how much fuel was aboard McAllister at her demise, and how much actually remains aboard today. Environmental concerns led to an initial ROV inspection of the hull by the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM) in Vergennes, VT in 1997. More recent discussions on tug ownership, potential clean-up roles and responsibilities, and the identification of possible funding sources for any proposed fuel recovery project led to the desire for an updated video inspection. Phoenix was subcontracted by LCMM to conduct this work. The extensive video taken of the wreck by xBot G3 is now supporting an assessment of the potential threat posed by William H. McAllister for a future oil release into the Lake environment.