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Posted on: March 30, 2021


Coffin Marine uses fabricated lifts to pull a derelict sailboat from the water

Derelict vessels often wash up in shallow water areas where sensitive habitats, such as seagrass, can make removal difficult. Coffin Marine Services recently built a custom pontoon lift barge that can hoist derelict vessels from these shallow environments. Using aluminum framing and repurposed polyfoam flotation cells, the equipment draws only 6 inches of water allowing salvage operations to occur without invasive removal methods or causing additional resource impacts. Since 2008, Coffin Marine has removed nearly 200 derelict vessels for Monroe County.

“John Coffin is a dedicated, model contractor for Monroe County’s Derelict Vessel Removal Program who tirelessly demonstrates creative solutions when working in our sensitive marine environment,” said Monroe County Marine Resources Senior Administrator Celia Hitchins. “He and his crew members always show a strong commitment towards environmental stewardship, partnership, and transparency to ensure our waterways remain safe and clean.”

Each year, the Marine Resources Office removes an average of 60-80 derelict vessels utilizing prequalified marine contractors that competitively bid each job. It is the vessel’s owner who is responsible for removal. However, when all attempts by law enforcement to locate and hold the boat owner responsible have failed, Monroe County utilizes Boating Improvement Funds and grant funding from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to assist with removal efforts. On average, the County spends about $238,000 a year in Boating Improvement Funds to remove derelict vessels. In the past 12 months, FWC grants funded $266,000 in costs resulting in significant cost savings to the County.

More information about Monroe County Marine Resources and derelict vessels can be found at

Pictured: In partnership with Monroe County, Coffin Marine Services uses a newly retrofitted barge to remove a derelict vessel near Ballast Key off Key West that was a casualty of Hurricane Irma. An FWC grant funded the removal.

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