USCG Reports Wide Damage as Typhoon Hits Guam and Heads to Philippines

Mawar typhoon damage Guam
USCG crews work to get water out of building as damage assessments begin (USCG)

Published May 25, 2023 5:55 PM by The Maritime Executive

Following the devastating impact of Typhoon Mawar, U.S. Coast Guard forces are actively assessing the situation and coordinating maritime response efforts. The initial damage assessment shows a broad impact on the maritime resources and the island as a whole with the USCG working to restore services. Warnings are also going up for the Philippines as the storm has reached Super Typhoon status.

The storm hit the U.S. island with winds over 100 mph and dropped a reported two feet of rain. The governor issued an all-clear as of late Thursday saying that early indicates are that no one has died in the powerful storm. However, only 1,000 of the 52,000 customers on the island currently have power. Water and most services are disrupted.

The USCG advises that the port in Guam is closed and will remain in Port Heavy Weather Condition Zulu until crews complete further assessments. The Captain of the Port anticipates reopening the ports in Saipan and Tinian within 24 hours, pending the confirmation of aids to navigation (ATON) and a more favorable sea state. However, the USCG is also warning of difficulties accessing the ATON system with assessments still ongoing.


Power is out to most of the island and debris is covering roads (FEMA)


As of the morning of May 25, responders are aware of three barges, two mobile crane barges, and a derelict vessel that broke free from commercial piers and are now aground in Piti Channel, one of the primary harbors on the west coast of the island. Further, the USCG reports while there may be some damage to the Mobile Pier facility, responders can confirm the valves are shut, eliminating any immediate fire hazards.

The dry dock at Cabras appears to be either sunk or partially submerged. Additionally, two tug crews abandoned the ship during the storm as they took on water. Other nearby tug crews rescued them. 

There is concern about the state of the piers in Sumay Cove Marina, on Naval Base Guam, as the small boat harbor suffered some damage, potentially posing challenges for launching the U.S. Coast Guard 45-foot Response Boat-Mediums and 29-foot Response Boat-Smalls used for Search and Rescue (SAR) operations. Crews are actively testing this capability, but the boats themselves weathered the storm.

In addition, Rescue 21 Search and Rescue towers on Guam are temporarily out of service. It is currently unclear whether the damage is permanent or if it is due to power issues. However, crews are working to assess the next steps to restore their functionality. Presently, the only available SAR radio coverage is in Saipan, operating on generators.


Fast response boats were secured on land and other assets moved away from the island (USCG)


The crews of the three 154-foot Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutters homeported in Guam are safely moored in Yap, awaiting the all-clear and improved sea state between Yap and Guam. At the same time, they dispatched an HC-130 Hercules airplane and crews from U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point left Hawaii with additional resources to conduct port assessments with additional repair and disaster assistance response teams expected from Hawaii aboard another U.S. Coast Guard aircraft within days. 

CNN is also reporting that the U.S. Navy has directed the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group to the island to assist in the recovery. The U.S. has two large military installations on Guam.

As Guam works to begin to recover from the storm, cautions are now going up for the Philippines and Taiwan. Mawar continues to grow in strength officially being declared a Super Typhoon and one of the top five storms ever during May. Latest reports put peak winds at 175 mph with gusts over 200 mph. The Philippines is preparing for the storm to reach northern Luzon by late on Friday or early Saturday.