Salvors Struggle to Refloat Grounded Longliner Near Honolulu

fishing vessel Pacific Paradise aground
Responders continue work, Oct. 12, 2017, to remove potential pollutants from the 79-foot fishing vessel Pacific Paradise currently aground off Honolulu, prior to the onset of larger swells and surf. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Air Station Barbers Point/Released

A salvage team and other response crews are continuing efforts to remove the 79-foot fishing vessel Pacific Paradise which ran aground last Tuesday off Honolulu.

The vessel remained grounded as of Sunday despite several attempts to tow it from the reef off Waikiki’s Kaimana Beach during high tides. The vessel is located about 1,000 feet from shore.

To make matters worse, a fire broke out aboard the vessel over the weekend forcing all seven members of the salvage team to abandon ship. The fire started when gasoline used to fuel a dewatering pump splashed on hot surfaces, causing it to ignite, according to the Coast Guard. The seven salvors were picked up by safety crews and returned to the salvage vessel with no injuries.

The Coast Guard reported Sunday that the fire was down to a smolder after a Hawaii Fire Department crew dropped water on the vessel from a helicopter. “The fire rendered the vessel unsafe to board. Salvage crews continued efforts to tow the vessel making little progress and were forced to cease towing operations as the tide went out,” the Coast Guard said.

The Coast Guard has also reported a release of roughly 200 gallons of diesel fuel from the vessel.

“Until crews can access the vessel and survey the damage it is unknown exactly where this release came from,” the Coast Guard said. “As a result of lightering efforts during the week, two-thirds of the fuel was removed along with the marine batteries leaving a maximum of 1,500 gallons aboard prior to the release of fuel.”

In total, the vessel had approximately 8,000 gallons of diesel, 55 gallons of lube and hydraulic oils, and four marine batteries when it grounded, the Coast Guard, said earlier last week. 

A safety zone remains in effect around the vessel extending out 500 yards in all directions. The Coast Guard Cutter Kittiwake (WPB 87316) remains on scene to monitor the vessel and enforce the safety zone.

Weather conditions as of Sunday were reported as 28 mph winds with 3 to 5-foot waves and a long 3-foot south-southwest swell, with rain showers possible. These conditions are expected to remain through midweek.

The vessel is somewhat sheltered from the wind by Diamond Head as it’s on the south shore of Oahu, the Coast Guard said.

The Pacific Paradise is a U.S.-flagged vessel and part of the Hawaii longline fleet homeported in Honolulu.

Coast Guard response and Honolulu Fire Department crews rescued the master and 19 fishermen from the vessel on the night of October 10 following reports that the vessel grounded off Diamond Head near Kaimana Beach. The crewmen were released to Customs and Border Protection.

The cause of the grounding remains under investigation.

Along with the Coast Guard and local fire departments, the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are also participating in the response.

NOAA crews are standing by to assist marine mammals as necessary, but so far none have been affected, the Coast Guard said. The Department of Health has also reached out to residents and beach goers in the area to caution them against swimming in the vicinity of the vessel.