Fire Complicates Salvage of Longliner Off Waikiki

Image courtesy USCG

By The Maritime Executive 10-16-2017 09:57:48

The longliner Pacific Paradise went aground on a reef about 400 yards off Kaimana Beach, Honolulu last Tuesday, near the tourist district of Waikiki. The Coast Guard and the Honolulu Fire Department rescued her crew of 20 using Jet Skis and a helicopter, and all were taken safely to shore. 

But the task of removing the vessel has turned out to be more complex than the rescue. On Friday, salvors managed to move the Paradise 50 yards before the tow line parted. On Saturday, before another tow attempt could begin, a gas-fueled dewatering pump caught its own fuel supply on fire, forcing salvors to abandon ship while the Honolulu Fire Department mounted a response. The department used a helicopter with a firefighting bucket (or “bambi bucket”) to douse the vessel's decks and slow the fire. 

On Sunday, USCG Cmdr. Patrick Gallagher said that the fire continued to smolder, "burning through anything it can find slowly." The condition of the vessel's deck is unknown, complicating any attempt to board her, and the Coast Guard says that the salvage team is reassessing its plans. Cmdr. Gallagher told Hawaii News that the reef's structure is also making the refloat effort complicated. "There are coral heads out there and it's sitting in maybe six feet of water so we have to navigate through it," he said. "We just don't want to do any further damage."

Pollution is minimal so far, with about 200 gallons released into the water, and lightering has removed most of the fuel from the wreck, leaving about 1,500 gallons on board. NOAA is monitoring the scene to minimize any harm to marine life, and the local department of health is alerting beachgoers to the potential of pollution near the vessel. A 500-yard safety zone and a no-fly zone are in effect.