Crews continue to mitigate pollution threats from vessels displaced by Hurricane Irma

Emergency Support Function 10 (ESF-10) Florida response crews conduct removal operations on a sailing vessel near Key West, Fla., on Dec. 28, 2017. Hundreds of vessels have been reported damaged, displaced, or have sunk both in inland waters and along the coastline of Florida as a result of Hurricane Irma. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Walker.

ESF-10 Florida response crews conduct removal operations on a sailing vessel near Key West, Fla., on Dec. 28, 2017.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Walker.

MIAMI – Cleanup efforts and removal operations of displaced vessels are progressing throughout Florida waterways sixteen weeks after Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys.

The Unified Command for the response-officially titled Emergency Support Function 10 (ESF-10) Florida-consists of leaders from the U.S. Coast Guard and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Currently, 2,366 displaced vessels have been removed from Florida waterways. 145 people from state and federal agencies are involved in the disaster response.

Responders are prioritizing the removal of vessels based on potential environmental impact.

“We are steadfast in our commitment to safety and diligent planning as our response crews continue working in the remaining affected areas along the east coast of Florida and the Keys” said Captain Bryon Smith, FWC Incident Commander for ESF-10 Florida. “The expert support we receive from our partner agencies enables us to carefully operate using best management practices throughout the response. ”

Vessel owners are encouraged to hire a salvage company to recover their vessels in order to provide the safest removal method possible for the public and environment. Owners wishing to remove their own vessels are encouraged to visit the following website for guidelines and best practices

Owners of displaced vessels who lack the resources to have their boat repaired, or if their vessel is determined to be beyond repair, may release ownership of their vessel through a waiver provided by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The waiver process can be initiated by contacting FWC through the Vessel Removal Hotline at 305-985-3744 and requesting to turn over a displaced vessel. An FWC representative will then contact the owner to explain the waiver process and facilitate the potential turnover of ownership.

These updated figures represent a combination of displaced vessels removed from the water by ESF-10 Florida and private owners. These numbers are subject to change as more vessels are identified and removed from the water.

  • Miami Branch: Vessels removed: 265
  • Jacksonville Branch: Vessels removed: 163
  • Florida Keys Branch: Vessels removed: 1,667

The ESF-10 is the framework by which federal support is coordinated with state agencies in response to actual or potential oil spills or hazardous material releases. Partner agencies, including Florida Department of Environmental Protection, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, are contributing expertise and experience to the assessment and removal efforts.

To learn more about the ESF-10 Florida process of pollution recovery and vessel removal, click here.

The public is encouraged to call the National Response Center at (800) 424-8802 to report any pollution incidents.

For imagery and video of the Hurricane Irma response, please visit our Hurricane Irma Flickr page.

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