The Unified Command operation has begun to remove burned and sunken vessels, and marine debris, from Lahaina Harbor and the surrounding waterways.
So far, more than 2,350 gallons of petroleum products, 200 pounds of hazardous materials that include batteries, and 8 vessels have been removed from the harbor.
It is the second phase of the mission to restore the harbor and waterways following the Aug. 8 wildfire.
The Unified Command — comprised of the US Coast Guard, Hawaiʻi Department of Health and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources — and the primary contractor, Global Diving & Salvage, have carefully planned this operation with a priority to preserve the marine ecosystem, according to the Unified Command press release.
The teams have cultural and archaeological monitors advising on the recovery of vessels and debris in this historic area.
The Coast Guard met virtually with vessel stakeholders on Sept. 28 to provide an update on operations, answer questions and explain the extent of work completed.
The recovered vessels have been relocated to a nearby parking lot, designated as a temporary staging area. Vessel stakeholders will be notified when their vessel has been recovered.
The state Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation is the primary stakeholder contact for vessel adjudication. The Unified Command is working with US Army Corps of Engineers for final disposal of the boats.
The general order for vessel pollution mitigation and removal operations continues to be executed in a phased approach as described below. Due to the uncertain nature of removal operations, some phases may occur simultaneously. Specific timelines cannot be generated at this time due to the dynamic nature of the response.
Phase 0 – Pre-Operations: This initial phase of operations consisted of the search for sunken, derelict or displaced vessels, along with associated marine debris. The Coast Guard said this part of the operation was completed in mid September with 78 “targets” identified. A target could be a sunken vessel or a large piece of marine debris.
The Unified Command has been working to identify and contact vessel owners to gather information about each vessel.
Phase 1 – Hazard Mitigation and Consultation: This phase includes equipment staging, area assessments for safety and pollution concerns, and consultation with local, state and federal partners to create and formalize operational plans for the next phase. Cultural and archeological monitors will be in place to ensure operations are conducted respectfully. Monitors will continue to advise on cultural and archeological areas throughout all phases of the operation.
Phase 2 – Removal Operations: This is the physical recovery phase. Operations will include pollution mitigation and recovery, and removal of vessels and debris from the water to pre-designated staging areas. The Unified Command will closely coordinate with local authorities to facilitate access to impacted vessels for owners, operators, assessors and other stakeholders.
Phase 3 – Closeout: The final phase of vessel pollution mitigation and removal operations. The Unified Command, with the concurrence of local, state and federal partners, will determine that the mission assignment has been completed.
The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act of 1988 authorized and funded this mission assignment for the U.S. Coast Guard that was agreed upon by the State of Hawaiʻi and FEMA and delineates the work for vessel and debris removal operations.
The Unified Command has created a Harbor Coordination Group to communicate with owners and operators of impacted vessels. Vessel owners and operators can contact the Harbor Coordination Group at D14-DG-SH-SecHono-MTSRU@uscg.mil.