Harbors Division adds vessels to support emergency operations

  • This 27-foot vessel named Kokua, which means to help or give aid, will be stationed in Kawaihae. (Courtesy photo/Special to West Hawaii Today)

HONOLULU — The state Department of Transportation Harbors Division is placing four new Security and Disaster Recovery vessels into service amid the 2020 Central Pacific hurricane season.

The vessels will be ported at Hilo, Kawaihae, Nawiliwili, and Kahului harbors and can support emergency operations at Port Allen, Kaunakakai, and Kaumalapau harbors.

“After a hurricane, tsunami, or earthquake, one of the first steps in getting our commercial harbors back up and running to support the delivery of needed supplies is underwater surveys to make sure there are no obstructions that could cause damage to the ships and barges that make our State’s hub and spoke system possible,” said DOT Director Jade Butay. “These vessels will enable us to do the surveys quickly and accurately.”

The four aluminum monohulled vessels were designed in collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and come equipped with portable side scan sonar for the assessments. The cost for the vessels was $1.4 million, which was paid for through the Harbors Special funds supported by tariffs and fees from the movement of cargo.

“Delivery of the Kuleana, Kokua, Kalewa, and the Ke Alii O Ke Kai improves our emergency operations capabilities significantly,” said Hawaii Department of Transportation Deputy Director for Harbors Derek Chow. “Although we hope we won’t need to use them this hurricane season, it’s important to us to have the tools to ensure our commercial harbors can support safe navigation and the mooring of vessels post disaster.”

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