Tong Cheng to Obtain Temporary Repairs for Return to China

HONOLULU – The 485-foot Chinese-flagged cargo ship Tong Cheng that made an emergency stop at Oahu due to underwater damage has sucessfully undergone temporary repairs at Anchorage B and will be escorted to Kalaeloa Barbers Point Harbor for additional repairs.

“This is an excellent example of cooperation, not only between the governments of China and the U.S., but between federal, state, local and industry partners,” emphasized Capt. Vince Atkins, Captain of the Port of Honolulu. “Through these joint efforts, we saved 26 lives, prevented a ship from sinking at sea, and prevented an environmental catastrophe from occurring in our waters. The next step is to finish the job and repair the vessel so it can safely transit back to its home port.”

Kalaeloa Barbers Point Harbor was selected to receive the vessel to facilitate repairs. The State Department of Transportation (Harbors Division) and the vessel’s representatives are working with affected harbor agents to minimize schedule disruptions and economic impact. In light of these minimal disruptions, the vessel’s owner has established a claims process for affected businesses and will soon publish a toll free number for claims registration.

The vessel’s owner provided a cargo manifest to the Coast Guard that has been reviewed. The review of the provided manifest indicates that the vessel is carrying assorted general cargo. A further review of the manifest is being conducted to identify any hazardous materials and the Coast Guard and Customs will implement standard safety protocols as required to screen such cargo to ensure the health and safety of the port.

Additional repairs to the vessel will be made at Kalaeloa Barbers Point Harbor. All repairs will be certified by the vessel’s Classification Society. The vessel was originally destined for various Caribbean ports, including Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Panama, but will now return to China for further inspections and repairs. The Coast Guard will conduct a safety of navigation inspection of the vessel prior to its return to China.

An Incident Command organization comprised of the Coast Guard Captain of the Port, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the State of Hawaii Department of Transportation (Harbors Division) and Department of Health (Office of Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response) and representatives of the vessel’s owners, was established to ensure the safety of the crew, protect the Hawaiian environment, and ensure public safety.

While at Anchorage B, a team of U.S. Navy divers from the Mobile Diving Salvage Unit One, contracted response personnel, and members of the Coast Guard Pacific Strike Team successfully improved the Tong Cheng’s stability and integrity while mitigating the risk of pollution. The Coast Guard has conducted daily overflights since January 17th, when an initial overflight noted an oil sheen two to three miles behind the vessel when it was approximately 70 miles away from Oahu. Since then, daily overflights and on scene Coast Guard vessels have not reported any other pollution. While at anchor, the vessel was continuously attended by a pollution response vessel designed to contain and recover any spilled oil. Coast Guard, State, and industry oil dispersant capability was also on immediate standby. During this period, no oil was spilled. Further, when the vessel moves to Kalaeloa Barbers Point Harbor, it will be escorted by spill response vessels and once moored, will be surrounded by a containment barrier to ensure any discharge is collected and recovered. The State Department of Health and the Coast Guard will continue to closely monitor the situation until the vessel departs.

The Coast Guard Cutter Walnut escorting the crippled vessel Tong Cheng into safe anchorage outside of Honolulu.  US Coast Guard Photo

ESCORT — The Coast Guard Cutter Walnut, a 225-foot buoy tender stationed in Honolulu, is stirring in the early morning. The Walnut was escorting the crippled vessel Tong Cheng into safe anchorage outside of Honolulu.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Luke Clayton.

Source: USCG D14 Public Affairs

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