Cleanup of Pacific Paradise Grounding Site Begins

By The Maritime Executive 12-08-2017 05:01:05

The grounded fishing vessel Pacific Paradise was successfully removed from a reef off Kaimana Beach, Hawaii on Thursday, and the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources is taking the lead with the shipowner to conduct a cleanup of the wreck site. 

Suzanne Case, chair of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, expressed her gratitude to the team that worked on the Paradise salvage. “These efforts are complex, and with the addition of unpredictable ocean conditions, the position, size and weight of the ship on the reef, and its proximity to one of Hawaii’s most populated beach areas, it was important that we all worked together to remove the ship while minimizing risk to people and to the environment," she said. 

After months of effort, response crews managed to refloat the Pacific Paradise on Wednesday. They moved the vessel about 600 feet into an adjacent channel before the tide fell, and a second attempt succeeded in fully removing the vessel on Thursday morning’s high tide. The Coast Guard says that a minimal amount of pollution entered the water during this evolution. 

One mile offshore, the tow was switched over to the tug American Contender for the transit out to an EPA-approved disposal site located about 13 miles south of Oahu. On Friday, the salvors will sink the Pacific Paradise in nearly 1,800 feet of water.

“This response has been long and challenging, but the professionalism and expertise of the crews that came together was nothing short of impressive”, said Capt. Michael Long, captain of the port and commander of U.S. Coast Guard Sector Honolulu.

The Pacific Paradise went aground just off Waikiki just before midnight Oct. 10. Over the two months since, commercial and government experts have worked to remove the vessel as fast as possible with the least amount of impact to the marine environment. Responders spent the past weeks preparing and patching the hull, pumping out water, removing heavy components, taking off the rudder and adding additional buoyancy. 

The project was set back several times due to conditions at the site, which was in the surf zone, and to a fire that broke out when fuel came into contact with a dewatering pump's motor. Resolve Marine joined and completed the salvage effort several weeks after that event. 

The Coast Guard is continuing the investigation into the cause of the grounding, and the process will likely take several months. Once complete, the findings will be released to the public and the Coast Guard will assess fines or punitive actions as appropriate.