Burned Vessel Goes Aground Near Port of Pago Pago
The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating a grounding near the port of Pago Pago, American Samoa. Earlier this week, the Taiwanese longliner Chui Zai Fa No. 1 went aground about 300 yards off the beach at Leone Bay, about eight miles to the southwest of the port.
The vessel caught fire on November 4 in international waters, forcing most of her crew to abandon ship into a life raft. The survivors were rescued by a Korean vessel and transferred to another Taiwanese vessel, which carried them to Fiji. However, her master and one additional fisherman remain missing.
The burned wreck of the Chui Zai Fa No. 1 remained afloat until Monday, when it found the southwestern shores of Tutuila, American Samoa. Chui Zai Fa may have about 13,000 gallons of fuel on board, though the exact amount is not known as some may have burned off in the fire. The Coast Guard said in a statement that the owner has taken responsibility for the grounding and provided significant financial resources to mitigate any potential effects. No pollution has been reported.
Coast Guard responders are en route to American Samoa from Honolulu on a USCG SAR aircraft and are expected to arrive Wednesday afternoon. Personnel from the Coast Guard Pacific Strike Team out of Novato, California are also getting under way, and will arrive Friday on a commercial flight. Pollution response and salvage plans are in development, and in the interim, responders may anchor the vessel to prevent it from moving or damaging the coral reefs.
The Chui Zai Fa is not the only vessel to go aground on Tutuila in recent years. In May 2015, the Taiwanese fishing boat SeaHawk No. 68 went aground on a reef at the entrance to Pala Lagoon, between Leone Bay and Pago Pago. Her owner went bankrupt, and without financial resources behind a salvage plan, her hull was abandoned in place.