Shipping containers remain missing off Hilo

  • A stack of shipping containers that evidently fell over on the Young Brothers barge Ho‘omaka Hou on Monday morning. (Courtesy of KAI KAHELE/Special to West Hawaii Today)

A salvage team continued searching Tuesday for missing shipping containers that fell from a Young Brothers barge Monday as it headed to Hilo Harbor.

Two of the containers that fell Monday were towed to the harbor, while another two were located and marked, the Coast Guard said. As of Tuesday afternoon, 12 containers of the at least 21 containers that fell remained unaccounted for.

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A 250-ton crane will lift containers out of the water, the Coast Guard said.

The Coast Guard is investigating, along with the shipping company, Young Brothers. Young Brothers said it will use a third-party to conduct an independent investigation.

The National Transportation Safety Board is also investigating.

The was the company’s “first loss of containers overboard in more than 20 years,” Chris Martin, Young Brothers director of terminal operations, said in a statement.

There were hazardous materials in one container — “small household cleaners and usage materials,” the Coast Guard said, adding that container is on the barge and not in the water.

The incident comes as Young Brothers, the state’s only regulated interisland cargo company, appealed to the state for $25 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to prevent the 120-year-old company from ceasing operations.

During a status conference on June 10, Young Brothers President Jay Ana told the Public Utilities Commission that sailings to Hilo “are going more full” than before.

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“Now we’re able to stack a little bit higher than we have been — there’s still quite a bit of capacity on that barge,” Ana told commissioners when asked about impacts to operations with sailings between Honolulu and Hilo reduced to once a week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.