NEW BERN - Nine months after Hurricane Irene, work to dismantle a sunken crane-barge from the 1930s picks up speed.
The storm badly damaged the vessel, as parts of the hull buckled, took on water and sunk near the Neuse River Bridge. Now, contractors are pumping hundreds of gallons of water from the barge to set it afloat once again.
"We're getting ready to bring her up, take her around to shallow water, and cut her into small pieces," lead contractor Shawn Persinger said. "It will take about a month, then it'll be out of here."
The most dangerous part of the operation will come when gashes underwater are repaired - a delicate task for trained divers.
"When you have a man inside one of the compartments underwater, it's a bit of a risk," Persinger said. "You might bust an air hose, not be able to get out. That's the scariest part."
Once the barge floats, it will be dismantled and given to an undisclosed buyer.
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