Boat to stay put, for now

  • U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Amanda Wyrick The 63-foot fishing vessel Midway Island ran aground Feb. 3 north of Hilo.

The Coast Guard said Monday afternoon it had scrapped plans to move the 63-foot fishing vessel Midway Island, currently aground north of Hilo, after inspectors discovered flooding within the boat.

The U.S.-flagged vessel grounded Feb. 3, and the Coast Guard is continuing to work with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and other partners to safely move the boat and mitigate the remaining pollution aboard.

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Environmental impact has been minimal, and there is no evidence of pollution discharge as a result of the water intrusion, according to the Coast Guard.

“While preparing the vessel for movement, our contractors identified water ingress into both the fish hold and engine room,” said Chief Warrant Officer Russell Strathern, a Coast Guard pollution response expert. “Because this loss of hull integrity and positive buoyancy would have resulted in the sinking of the vessel when moved, they immediately stopped preparing the vessel for a tow. We are currently assessing options and developing plans to move the vessel to a safe location for further mitigation.”

Plans were earlier announced to move the Midway Island to a berth just outside Wailoa Boat Harbor in Hilo during Monday afternoon’s high tide.

The Coast Guard said it will continue to monitor the vessel for discharges until an approved plan to move the vessel and mitigate the remaining pollution on board is enacted.

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 said the public should remain clear of the safety zone to prevent injury or impact to operations.

Reportedly, 1,352 gallons of petroleum products, including marine diesel, lube, 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.

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The Midway Island was transiting from Los Angeles to Hawaii at the time of the grounding. The cause is under investigation.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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