Port of Pago Pago remains closed following Tropical Cyclone Gita

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa —The port of Pago Pago remains closed to commercial traffic Saturday pending further assessment following Tropical Cyclone Gita, while work to remove the fishing vessel Chui Kai Fa No. 1 continues.

High winds remain a concern through the weekend, as responders work to assess the region and resume the response to the grounded 88-foot commercial fishing vessel Chui Zai Fa No. 1, located approximately 300-yards off Leone Bay.

A HC-130 airplane crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point, Hawaii, is en route to American Samoa to conduct an aerial post-storm assessment. A small contingent of Coast Guard response personnel and a FEMA representative are expected to arrive late Saturday afternoon aboard the same airplane. These members were originally scheduled to arrive Friday, but commercial travel was delayed by the storm.

Response crews were able to access the fishing vessel and assess three-quarters of the multiple fish holds and fuel tanks on board. All assessed holds and tanks were either empty or contained only sea water. The maximum remaining potential in the holds and tanks that were not reached is 1,850 gallons, down substantially from the original possible maximum of 30,000 gallons. No sheen was seen by responders. Oil spill response equipment deployed to mitigate impacts from any potential spill remains in place and has been adjusted to provide maximum benefit to the environment in the event of a release of the product. The owner of the Chui Zai Fa No. 1 is the responsible party and is actively working with Coast Guard officials and local authorities to develop a salvage plan for the grounded fishing vessel.

A gale warning and small craft advisory remain in effect for American Samoa with frequent showers and scattered thunderstorms. Winds are reportedly 23 to 35 mph with seas at 12 to 16 feet. Widespread power and water outages are reportedly affecting the island, although according to the Army Reserve utility power has been restored to the airport.

The public is reminded that the site immediately around the vessel and the vessel itself are dangerous. It is in a heavy surf zone and the structure of the vessel is compromised. Non-response personnel should remain clear of the vessel and surrounding area.

The Taiwanese-flagged vessel reportedly caught fire Nov. 4, 2017, in international waters and remained adrift until its grounding Monday.

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