The US Coast Guard is continuing to respond to the significant loss of containers from barge Ho’Omaka Hou on June 22nd while it was being towed by the Hoku Loa (IMO 9032795) towards Hilo Harbour early June 22nd.
At least 21 40ft containers were lost from the barge before dawn on Monday June 22nd as it was being towed from Honolulu to Hilo.
Nine containers were located quickly, but 12 remained missing. The crew of the tug only noticed that the containers were missing after mooring in Hilo. They had been lost approximately eight miles north of Hilo while it was still dark; one was located adrift in Hilo Port.
The USCG said that it was working with staff from Hawaiian inter-island shipping company Young Brothers, a subsidiary of Saltchuk’s Foss Maritime. to assess the situation further, including determining what cargo has been lost.
Marine safety personnel were dispatched to the incident command post in Hilo, and an overflight took place. The State of Hawaii Department of Transportation Harbours Division was assisting at the pier in Hilo.
A Cates Marine salvage team hired by Young Brothers continued to search for and locate missing containers. Two of the nine located containers have been successfully towed and secured in Hilo Harbour. Another two of the nine were located and marked. Cates Marine personnel will continue retrieving known containers from the original cluster of nine. A 250-ton crane has been contracted for American Marine to lift containers out of the water in Hilo.
The company has developed a salvage plan to offload the barge and will submit it to USCG Sector Honolulu personnel for review and approval. Once begun, offloading was expected to take several days. Only one container that was on the barge contained hazardous materials, comprising small household cleaners and usage materials. That container remained on the barge and did not fall into the water. Twelve containers remain unaccounted for. Aerial overflights have been conducted, but with no additional sightings.
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 has been advised and was acting in a supporting role. Young Brothers was also conducting an independent investigation into the incident.
A Coast Guard broadcast notice to mariners remained in effect for the waters off Hilo to advise mariners to use extra caution while transiting the area and keep a sharp lookout for any signs of containers that may present a hazard to navigation.
1991-built, USA-flagged, 477 gt Hoku-Loa is owned and managed by Young Brothers of Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. It is entered with Steamship Mutual (Americas Syndicate) on behalf of Young Brothers LLC.