Story by CPO Sara Muir on 10/15/2017HONOLULU Responders will continue efforts to remove the 79-foot fishing vessel Pacific Paradise aground off Honolulu Sunday.
At first light the salvage team will reassess the vessel and attempt another towing evolution if weather allows this to be done safely.
The vessel remained grounded Saturday despite several attempts to tow it from the reef located off Waikiki's Kaimana Beach during the most favorable tide.
During work to dewater the vessel, gasoline used to fuel a dewatering pump reportedly splashed on hot surfaces causing it to ignite and start a fire aboard. The seven members of the salvage team abandoned ship, were picked up by Ocean Safety crews, and returned to the salvage vessel with no injuries.
Hawaii Fire Department crew dropped water on the vessel from a helicopter with a bambi bucket attached knocking down the blaze to a smolder. 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.
A release of roughly 200 gallons of diesel fuel was detected by responders. Until crews can access the vessel and survey the damage it is unknown exactly where this release came from. 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.
NOAA crews are standing by to assist marine mammals as necessary, none have been affected thus far. 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 and discuss water quality monitoring.
A safety zone remains in effect around the vessel extending out 500 yards in all directions. The public is asked to remain clear of the safety zone to prevent injury or impact to operations. The Coast Guard Cutter Kittiwake (WPB 87316) will remain on scene to monitor the vessel and enforce the safety zone.
Partners in the effort include personnel in several divisions of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response, the responsible party, commercial salvors and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Weather conditions in the vicinity of the vessel are forecast as 28 mph winds with 3 to 5 foot waves and a long 3-foot south southwest swell. Rain showers are 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 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 late Tuesday night following reports that the vessel grounded off Diamond Head near Kaimana Beach. Those crewmen were released to Customs and Border Protection. The cause of the grounding remains under investigation.