Challenging Hilo, Hawaii Wreck Removal

April , 2020

The S/V MIDWAY ISLAND was a sailing / fishing vessel that became grounded at the base of a cliff in Hilo Bay near Waikaku, a community just north of the city of Hilo, HI.  Global was contracted by the US Coast Guard to respond.  Under supervision of Global, and utilizing Global’s pre-staged defueling equipment, Sea Engineering, Inc., our Hawaii-based teaming partner, provided personnel and equipment to conduct defueling operations.  Between February 6th and 7th, 2020, 1,320 gallons of diesel, 35 gallons of lube/hydraulic oil, and 2 cubic yards of miscellaneous household hazardous waste and batteries were removed from the vessel.

Due to being hard against the cliff, the starboard side fuel tank was not completely accessible for defueling.  The Coast Guard directed Global to develop a plan to recover the vessel from the shoreline and deliver it to a safe location for final pollution mitigation.  Based on the damage to the vessel and her proximity to the main shipping channel, a recovery plan was devised to fill the vessel’s internal compartments with expanding foam to eliminate the possibility of the vessel sinking.

Global’s team had many challenges to overcome. The vessel was stranded in heavy surf at the bottom of a cliff requiring a helicopter to deliver personnel and equipment to the vessel.  Trees overhanging the cliff needed to be trimmed to provide the helicopter with a safe approach.  Rotting fish in the cargo hold presented the possibly of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) exposure requiring air monitoring and appropriate PPE.   The 2-part foam mixture generated heat when mixed, presenting the risk of fire if misapplied. This risk was mitigated through mixing appropriately sized batches of foam, and by monitoring core temperatures before laying additional layers of foam on top of other pours. In addition, the threat of the COVID-19 outbreak was growing by the day.

When the vessel was filled with foam, the recovery plan was put into action and the S/V MIDWAY ISLAND was successfully towed off the shoreline and delivered to a dock at the Port of Hilo. There she was demobilized and transferred to the State of Hawaii for final disposition.