Coast Guard, partners respond to report of grounded fishing vessel in American Samoa

File photo of an HC-130 from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point

File photo of an HC-130 from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa – The Coast Guard, port partners and local authorities are responding the grounding of the 88-foot commercial fishing vessel Chui Zai Fa No. 1 about 300-yards off Leone Bay, Wednesday.

Coast Guard responders are en route to American Samoa from Honolulu expected to arrive Wednesday afternoon via an HC-130 Hercules airplane from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point. Additional support from the Coast Guard Pacific Strike Team based in Novato, California, is scheduled to arrive to the island aboard a commercial flight Friday. The feasibility of pollution response and salvage plans are being discussed.

Personnel from the Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment in American Samoa, aboard a police vessel, assessed the Chu Zai Fa No. 1 following an initial report of its grounding Monday.

The Taiwanese-flagged vessel reportedly caught fire Nov. 4, 2017, in international waters prompting the crew to abandon ship into a life raft and were rescued by the crew of a Korean-flagged vessel, transferred to a sister fishing vessel and eventually disembarked in Fiji. The master of the Chu Zai Fa No. 1 and one crewmember reportedly remain missing. The Chu Zai Fa No. 1 remained adrift until its grounding Monday. The vessel has the capacity to carry 30,000 gallons of diesel fuel and there may be approximately 13,000 gallons aboard the vessel. Some of the fuel may have burned off in the fire.

The responsible party has been actively involved in addressing the matter, and has already provided significant financial resources to ensure all of the proper steps are taken in mitigating this issue.

A small craft advisory is currently in effect for American Samoa. Weather in the area is expected to deteriorate in the coming days as a monsoon trough generates wet and windy conditions across the islands through the rest of the week. Winds up to 45 mph, seas up to 10 feet, combined with hazardous north swells will gradually subside Wednesday night through Thursday morning. Occasional showers and isolated thunderstorms will occur through the next several days. Efforts are being considered to anchor the vessel in place to prevent it from shifting or damaging the coral reefs in the area.

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