Responders prepare to move vessel grounded off Hilo

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

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

Personnel have been contracted 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 U.S. Coast Guard said in a Monday press release. 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 Coast Guard Sector Honolulu On-Scene Coordinator Representative. “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 40 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.

The Midway Island, a U.S.-flagged vessel, grounded Monday following a 34-day transit from Los Angeles. The cause of the grounding remains under investigation.

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