The U.S. Navy is partnering with federal and local agencies in Guam in response to potential environmental impacts following the grounding of Japanese fishing vessel in outer Apra Harbor on Thursday.
The Navy reports that the all 10 crewmembers of the F/V Daiki Maru were rescued by a Navy aircrew after the vessel ran aground near Spanish Steps February 13 and was in danger of sinking. The fishermen were transported to U.S. Naval Hospital Guam for evaluation and later released.
Navy officials are taking all the necessary steps to address the situation and ensure the protection of the environment.
“It’s our number one priority on the Navy base along with all the agencies we are partnering with,” said Capt. Mike Ward, commanding officer of U.S. Naval Base Guam. “We’ve erected a unified command structure to respond to the incident. Our priority right now is to protect the environmentally sensitive area but we’re also developing a salvage and tow plan to remove the vessel off the reef right so we can remove the hazard from the environment. We need to do that safely but as expeditiously as we can.”
The Navy says it is working with the U.S. Coast Guard, Guam Environmental Protection Agency, NOAA, the responsible party and other organizations.
“As soon as we heard the news of the grounding, an environmental assessment team went out there to check for any possible damage that may have occurred to the reef or the sea turtles,” said Anne Brooke, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Marianas conservation program manager. “This is a joint effort by a host of agencies. We train for this kind of thing and are very proficient at this.”
Update (February 15, 2014):
An initial assessment of the grounded FV Daiki Maru in outer Apra Harbor has confirmed no evidence of leaking contaminants visible on the beach and surrounding waters while contracted divers that boarded the vessel reported all oil vents found were securely closed.
Throughout the day Friday, cleanup crews on the beach and on personal watercraft in the harbor collected debris and transported them to a safe location on shore to prevent environmental damage, the U.S. Navy said.
“The unified command made a lot of progress today and the on-site team made some significant first steps in mitigating the potential damage this vessel could do to the environment” said Dennis Siler, Naval Base Guam Operations Manager. “Our objective as we enter the third day is to complete the safe transfer of heavy oils off the vessel which represent the greatest danger to the environment.”
The unified command consists of representatives from Naval Base Guam, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Guam, Guam Environmental Protection Agency, and the responsible party. Other agencies that have been involved in all aspects of planning from the standup include Joint Region Marianas Operations, Naval Facilities Command Environmental personnel, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Guam Fish and Wildlife Service, Cabras Marine and Osroco.