MIRAMAR BEACH — A U.S. Coast Guard unit stationed in Panama City traveled to the site of the Phantom of the Aqua on Thursday to remove potentially hazardous materials from the beached sailboat.

MST 1 Joseph Hendrix, a Marine Science Technician First Class with the Coast Guard, said the unit arrived on scene at around 1:30 p.m. to remove batteries, oil and fuel from the 45-foot derelict vessel, which has been on the beach behind the Royal Palm Grille since October.

“We’re just removing the environmental concerns from the vessel,” Hendrix said. “There was an oily water mixture on the inside of the vessel and also several batteries on board. If the hull creates any kind of breach and any oil escapes from it, it could be bad news for these white sand beaches and the Gulf of Mexico here.”

The Coast Guard contracted with an oil spill recovery company to have the oil removed. A long hose connecting the Phantom to a truck parked up on the street siphoned the fuel out of the boat.

Hendrix said the Florida Department of Environmental Protection was on scene earlier in the day as well.

The boat has been sitting on the beach since Oct. 21, when it first washed ashore after a tumultuous journey from South Florida. The boat's captain, John Hale, had to be rescued from the vessel several weeks prior when rough seas from Hurricane Nate made his journey dangerous. Ever since the Phantom washed up alone on Miramar Beach, multiple efforts to have it removed have failed.

But according to Hendrix, the U.S. Coast Guard in Panama City was unaware the vessel was on the beach until earlier this week when they saw a news report about it.

“No one reported it to us,” he said.

Though the Coast Guard had rescued the boat’s captain from the vessel, Hendrix said it was a different unit that performed the rescue.

“If you’re that air crew, you’re more concerned with saving the guy’s life than wondering what happened to the boat,” he said.

Hendix said he had made several attempts to reach out to Hale about assisting with the oil removal process, but could not reach him. Hale is presumed to be currently living in Ohio and has not responded to multiple requests for comment from The Log.

The last time Hale spoke to The Log, in November, he said he had “signed the boat over” to a friend living in Miramar Beach. That person’s wife told The Log over the phone earlier this month she and her husband preferred to remain anonymous until attention over the boat died down.

Hendrix said the Coast Guard was not responsible for removing the vessel, only the hazmat materials inside and on it.

“The Coast Guard is just concerned with the environmental threat,” he said. “The vessel being removed is up to the state or local authorities.”

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation said having the boat removed from the beach was a priority and they were working with the boat's current owner to begin that process.