On February 4, 1999, the New Carissa was bound for the Port of Coos Bay, Oregon to pick up a load of wood chips. The ship's crew was informed by the local bar pilots that weather conditions would prevent the ship (which was empty at the time) from entering Coos Bay harbor until the next morning. The captain ordered the ship to drop anchor 1.7 nautical miles (3.1 km) off the coast in order to ride out the storm. The crew used a single anchor to secure the ship, and according to a United States Coast Guard review of the incident, used a chain that was too short. The short chain and the weather conditions, including winds of 20–25 knots (37–46 km/h), caused the ship to drag its anchor. Poor navigational techniques and inadequate watchkeeping led to the crew's failure to notice that the ship was moving. Once movement was detected, the crew attempted to raise anchor and maneuver away from the shore, but the weather and sea conditions made this difficult. By the time the anchor was raised, the ship had been pushed too close to the shore to recover.
The New Carissa was a dry bulk freighter optimized for carriage of wood chips owned by the Japanese shipping concern. The vessel using an all-steel construction. The freighter was 195 meters (639 ft) long and 32 meters (106 ft) wide.
After it was beached, an attempt to tow the bow section of the ship out to sea failed when the tow line broke, and the bow was grounded again. Eventually, the bow was successfully towed out to sea and sunk. The stern section remains on the beach near Coos Bay. Fuel on board the ship was burned off in situ, but a significant amount was also spilled from the wreckage, causing ecological damage to the coastline.
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