US Coast Guard, salvage teams respond to containers lost off Hilo, Hawaii

Photo: Office of Hawaii State Senator Kai Kahele

The US Coast Guard and a number of local salvage firms have responded to a report of containers lost from a cargo barge inbound to Hawaii’s Hilo Harbor on Monday, June 22.

A Cates Marine salvage team hired by the barge’s owners continues to search for and locate missing containers.

Two containers that fell from the Young Brothers-owned barge Ho’Omaka Hou have been successfully towed and secured in Hilo Harbor while another two containers are located and marked as of 21:00 local time on Tuesday. Cates Marine personnel will continue retrieving known containers from the original cluster of nine, which also includes four other containers that had been located about 12 kilometres north of Hilo.

A 250-tonne crane has been contracted by local company American Marine to lift containers out of the water in Hilo.

Plans are in place to begin an operation to remove the recovered containers from the water in Hilo Harbor on the morning of Wednesday, June 24.

The owners have developed a salvage plan to offload the barge and will submit it to Coast Guard Sector Honolulu personnel for review and approval. Once begun, offloading in expected to take several days.

Only one container has been found to contain hazardous materials in the form of small household cleaners and usage materials. This container is on the barge and not in the water.

Twelve containers remain unaccounted for. Aerial overflights were conducted by the coast guard on Tuesday with no additional sightings.

Coast Guard personnel are working with Young Brothers to investigate the incident. The event has been deemed a reportable marine casualty, meeting the criteria for such designation under the US Code of Federal Regulations.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been advised and is acting in a supporting role. Young Brothers is also conducting an independent investigation into the incident.

The loss of containers occurred while the barge was being towed to Hilo by the Young Brothers tug Hoku Loa.

Young Brothers confirms no one was injured in the incident.

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