Salvaged Vessels Returned to Owners, Operations Continue in U.S. Virgin Islands

Officer Omari Lewis, U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Environmental Resources shakes hands with Marc Weiser, after Weiser’s vessel was salvaged and returned Nov. 18, 2017, under special consideration for federal assistance. Owner assistance may be available under special consideration, allowing a vessel owner to have their property salvaged, cleaned of any potential pollutants, temporarily repaired and then transferred from Emergency Support Function operations to DPNR to be returned to the owner. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

Officer Omari Lewis, U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Environmental Resources shakes hands with Marc Weiser, after Weiser’s vessel was salvaged and returned Nov. 18, 2017, under special consideration for federal assistance. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands — Vessel salvage operations on St. Thomas saw success with the salvaging and returning of hurricane-displaced vessels to owners this past weekend.

More than 50 vessel owners have requested and been granted special consideration federal assistance, with five vessels having been salvaged in Flamingo Bay and returned to their owners at no cost.

“It is a privilege to help vessel owners regain their hurricane-impacted vessel,” said Howard Forbes Sr., Director, U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources, Environmental Enforcement Division. “We are here to help ensure the safety of the maritime environment, and being able to reunite vessel owners with their property is a huge win for us. There is no greater feeling to help a vessel owner while ensuring the safety of the environment.”

All vessels salvaged by the U.S. Coast Guard working under Federal Emergency Management Agency authorized Emergency Support Function 10 authorization, are transferred to DPNR after the vessels have been removed of all potential marine pollutants. DPNR then oversees the further disposition of the vessels, including returning vessels to owners under the special consideration federal assistance.

To date, more than 70 vessels have been salvaged through owner insurance, direct owner salvage or under ESF-10 operations. There are more than 250 vessels that have no identified owner or owner intent is unknown.

ESF-10 operations are being conducted to address more than 400 hurricane-displaced, damaged, sunken and aground vessels. ESF-10 authorizes the removal of potential maritime pollutants and salvaging of affected vessels.

Vessel owners have until December 1 to contact DPNR and declare their intentions. If owners do not have insurance or a way to self-salvage their vessel, they can request special consideration for federal assistance, or waive their rights to their vessel. Owners can contact DPNR through the Vessel Owner Notification Hotline at 340-423-6353, by email at usvidpnr@gmail.com.

Prior to removal of any displaced vessel within the boundaries of the Caribbean National Parks, vessel owners must contact the National Park Service via email at caribbean_recovery@nps.gov

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