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Salvage Divers Save Samoan Ferry from Flooding

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The ferry Sili (file image courtesy N8S)

By The Maritime Executive 2019-02-19 11:04:58

Salvors have located and addressed the cause of flooding on the passenger ferry Sili in Pago Pago, American Samoa. 

A salvage dive team located a two-inch diameter hole on the port side of the engine room and successfully applied a temporary patch, and the vessel is no longer taking on water. Any pollution from the incident has been recovered or dissipated, but containment booms will remain in place, and a watchstander will stay on the vessel to monitor the situation. A long-term salvage plan for the ship is in development.

At 1330 hours on Saturday, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu received a report that the ferry Sili taking on water at the main pier in Pago Pago. Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment American Samoa personnel responded, along with local authorities and members of the oil spill response organization SOLAR. They deployed containment and sorbent booms around the vessel. The maximum pollution potential is estimated at 9,000 gallons of diesel fuel and 2,000 gallons of lube oil.

“The safety of residents and responders is our priority, and while no one wants something like this to happen, thankfully it occurred at the pier where they swiftly addressed the issue,” said Lt. Erica Brewton, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Incident Management Division. “The application of protective booming and a temporary patch helped protect the environment, [and] we will continue to work with our Port partners ensuring a full and safe resolution to the incident.”

The Sili will remain out of service until it is drydocked and permanent repairs are completed. A dry dock availability is scheduled for the end of March, and Coast Guard personnel will continue to monitor and advise. Local media reports that she suffered some amount of engine damage due to the flooding. 

Sili provides regular service between Tutuila and Manu'a, American Samoa. She also took on water in 2017: a valve was left open while she was in the harbor at Ofu, Manu'a, and the engine room partially flooded, damaging one generator. 

The other vessel that serves this route, the Manu'atele, has also been out of service periodically over the past several years due to technical and crewing difficulties. The American Samoan government has previously chartered the Samoan government-owned landing craft Fotu o Samoa to make the run in order to avoid interruptions in service.