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Unmanned Vessel Reporting

It’s not an unusual sight in the Puget Sound – a boat partially submerged in the water or floating on the tide with no evidence of human activity onboard. What do you do? Who do you contact?

Marine Emergency or Derelict Vessel?

The first thing to determine is whether this is a Marine Emergency or a Derelict Vessel. If you witness someone in distress or see other signs of an emergency in progress you can contact the Coast Guard (USCG Puget Sound) by calling 206-217-6001 or activate local emergency agencies by calling 911!

If an unmanned vessel shows no signs of recent activity or is observed to be leaking engine or waste fluids, has significant algae growth, is stagnant in one area for an extended amount of time or is moored illegally then you’re looking at a Derelict Vessel.

Derelict Vessels

The Washington State Department of Natural Resource (DNR) has instituted a Vessel Removal Program. This program is the state's key mechanism for addressing the problem of derelict or abandoned vessels in Washington waters.

These vessels can have significant and diverse effects on the coastal environment, including oil pollution, marine debris, and wildlife entrapment. They become hazards to navigation, illegal dumping of waste oils and hazardous materials, and are public health hazards.

Derelict Vessels not only pose a hazard to the environment but also pose many direct hazards to people. Please keep this in mind when gathering information and remain a safe distance from derelict vessels. DO NOT go onboard unless you are trained to do so!

  1. The recommended first step is verifying if a derelict vessel has already been reported by accessing the DNR Inventory and Removal Lists available at

  2. If it is not listed, then contact DNR by using the Derelict & Abandoned Reporting Tool or DART. Visit to utilize this online reporting tool or call 360-902-BOAT (2628).

Vessel Turn-In Program

If you are the owner of a marine vessel and find you are lacking the resources to care for your boat, don’t just abandon ship! You can access DNR’s Vessel Turn-In Program. This program allows boat owners who can no longer take care of their vessels to turn them in for responsible disposal. Disposing of a vessel before it becomes derelict in Washington’s waters is considerably less expensive and less damaging.

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