Responders prepare to move vessel grounded in Hilo Bay

Motor-sailing vessel Midway Island grounded off Hilo, Hawaii, February 5, 2020. Drone assessments produced good footage of the environment and stability conditions of the vessel. (U.S. Coast Guard courtesy photo)

Motor-sailing vessel Midway Island grounded off Hilo, Hawaii, February 5, 2020.  (U.S. Coast Guard courtesy photo)

HONOLULU — Responders are working to refloat and move the 63-foot fishing vessel, Midway Island, currently aground off Hilo.

The Coast Guard is working with the Department of Land and Natural Resources and contracted personnel to refloat the vessel on the incoming high tide and building surf and move it to a state-owned pier outside Wailoa Boat Harbor for further pollution mitigation efforts. The vessel will not enter the boat harbor.

“The team is rigging the vessel for tow and will leverage the incoming high tide and building surf to coax the vessel off the seabed and into deeper water, before towing it 1.5 miles to the pier outside of normal traffic lanes,” said Chief Warrant Officer Russ Strathern, pollution response expert and Federal On-Scene Coordinator Representative from Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “Crews will stand by to dewater if necessary and keep the vessel afloat mitigating the chance of sinking in Hilo Bay.”

Reportedly, 1,352 gallons of petroleum products, including marine diesel, lube, and hydraulic oil, and oily waste, have been safely removed along with the batteries and household cleaners Thursday and Friday. Responders estimate less than forty gallons remain aboard. The Captain of the Port and the Coast Guard Salvage Engineering Response Team reviewed the contractor’s vessel movement and pollution mitigation plan over the weekend and concurred with the approach.

A safety zone in the area remains in effect. The vessel is aground on the rocks northwest of Hilo Harbor, and the safety zone extends 100-yards in all directions from its position. The Coast Guard is asking the public to remain clear of the safety zone to prevent injury or impact to operations.

There continue to be no reports of personnel injuries, pollution, or impacted wildlife. Weather on scene is favorable with clear skies, light winds, excellent visibility, and building surf.

The Midway Island, a U.S.-flagged vessel, grounded Monday following a transit from Los Angeles. The cause of the grounding is under investigation.

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