Pacific Paradise successfully removed from reef off Oahu

Following removal from the beach, crews prepare the Pacific Paradise further about a mile offshore from Oahu, Dec. 7, 2017. A combination of salvage and response experts worked over a 58-day period to repair, refloat and remove the vessel from the beach. The cause of the original grounding remains under investigation. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy Todd Duke/Released)

Following removal from the beach, crews prepare the Pacific Paradise further about a mile offshore from Oahu, Dec. 7, 2017.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy Todd Duke)

HONOLULU — The grounded Pacific Paradise was successfully removed from the reef off Kaimana Beach Thursday.

The State of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources will assume the lead as the coordinating agency to work with the owner of the Pacific Paradise to conduct cleanup of the wreck site as the pollution threat has been removed. The state will assess any damage done to the reef and facilitate the next step in mitigating the impacts and rehabilitating the reef.

“This response has been long and challenging, but the professionalism and expertise of the crews that came together was nothing short of impressive”, said Capt. Michael Long, captain of the port and commander U.S. Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. We appreciate the patience and support of the public, the diligence and persistence of our partners and are grateful the Pacific Paradise was safely removed.”

Suzanne Case, chair of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, expressed her sincere appreciation to everyone involved for their patience, persistence and care in getting the Pacific Paradise removed from the reef successfully and safely. Case said, “These efforts are complex, and with the addition of unpredictable ocean conditions, the position, size and weight of the ship on the reef, and its proximity to one of Hawaii’s most populated beach areas, it was important that we all worked together to remove the ship while minimizing risk to people and to the environment. DLNR is conducting a full assessment of the reef and any associated natural resource damage that occurred during the event.”

Response crews refloated the Pacific Paradise Wednesday and moved the vessel about 600 feet into the sandy channel before losing the tide. Crews conducted additional work to the vessel late in the day to prepare for the refloat and tow Thursday. That effort was ultimately successful in fully removing the vessel at 7:15 a.m. on the high tide using the tug Pi’ilani.

Just over a mile offshore the tow was switched over to the tug American Contender for the transit out to the EPA-approved disposal site 13 miles south of Oahu in federal waters. The responders are now in the process of sinking the Pacific Paradise in nearly 1,800 feet of water, which may take several hours.

During the operation to refloat and remove the grounded vessel minimal pollution entered the water.

The vessel originally grounded just before midnight Oct. 10. In the time since, local and mainland experts have worked diligently to remove the vessel as quickly and safely as possible with the least amount of impact to the marine environment. Responders spent the past weeks preparing and patching the hull, removing excess weight by pumping water and removing heavy spare parts including sheet metal and the rudder and adding additional buoyancy. The challenging environment and weather did slow or delay some work.

The Coast Guard is continuing the investigation into the cause of the grounding. That process will likely take several months. Once complete those findings will be released to the public and action will be taken to levee any fines or punitive actions that may be deemed appropriate.

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