Salvage operations have begun in Hawaii and a national investigation is underway after more than 20 containers were lost from a barge under tow
Young Brothers’ barge Ho Omaka Hou was being pulled by tug Hoku Loa in inclement weather when at least 21 containers fell into the sea.
The US Coast Guard (USCG) and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the incident and Young Brothers has secured the services of a salvage company to recover lost containers.
So far, nine 40-ft containers have been located, but 12 remain missing in Hilo Bay from the inter-island ocean transport service.
“We are actively working to remediate the situation in co-ordination with the USCG and other federal and state agencies,” said Young Brothers in a statement. “A salvage company was secured at daybreak and they immediately began removal of containers from Hilo Bay. No hazardous materials were discharged into the ocean.”
Tug Hoku Loa was pulling Ho Omaka Hou barge from Honolulu to Hilo on 22 June. According to local reports, crew only noticed the containers were missing after mooring in Hilo. Other reports said a US senator suggested the incident could have been caused by overloading the barge as Young Brothers had lowered its barge runs to once a week.
Also in Hawaii, Alaska Marine Lines has expanded its fleet by purchasing two cargo barges from Sause Bros, which halted its Hawaii service in March. Barges Kamakani and Namakani become the largest in Alaska Marine’s fleet and will be operated by Aloha Marine Lines in Hawaii.
Tugs have been involved in other salvage operations this week in central America, Canada and the Mediterranean.
On 23 June, bulk carrier Bluebell struck a rail bridge over the Panama Canal while transiting from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean. The Chagres river railway bridge is reportedly severely damaged, disrupting rail services until mid-July at the earliest, but there is only superficial damage to the ship, which has been moved to a safe anchorage.
In Canada, container ship MSC Fabienne was refloated with the assistance of tugs after grounding in the St Lawrence river, near Montreal. MSC Fabienne suffered engine failure after leaving Montreal, en route to Italy and grounded in the river, partially obstructing traffic on 19 June. By 21 June it was refloated and berthed back in Montreal with assistance of two tugs.
In France, steering failure led to bunker tanker Cap Pinede striking a breakwater in Marseille port. It was entering the port when the crew discovered the fault and attempted to slow the tanker by reversing engines to full astern.
In Greece, a tug was required to refloat a grounded bulker in southern Crete. Star Centaurus ran aground on 22 June in Limenes Bay after making a detour on its route from from Morocco to Suez, Egypt. There was no reported damage on the ship that was transporting 57,000 tonnes of fertiliser.
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