NEWS | Feb. 13, 2018

Coast Guard Completes Pollution Response Efforts for Grounded Fishing Vessel in American Samoa

By Petty Officer 2nd Class Tara Molle

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa -- The Coast Guard successfully completed pollution response efforts Monday for the 88-foot commercial fishing vessel Chu Zai Fa No. 1 grounded approximately 300-yards off Leone Bay.

Crewmembers from Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Prevention along with contracted personnel conducted assessments of all eight fuel tanks aboard the vessel including the hydraulic tanks and found them empty of any diesel or oily product.

“This response has been incredibly unique and somewhat of a challenge due to the nature of the grounding, which also coincided with Tropical Storm Gita,” Capt. Michael Long, Federal On-Scene Coordinator, and Commander U.S. Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “We’re relieved to know that there is no threat of pollution to the Village of Leone. We appreciate the patience and support of the public and the diligence of our partners in American Samoa.”

Coast Guard crewmembers met with officials from the Port of Pago Pago, American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency, American Samoa Department of Marine and Wildlife Reserve, National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa as well as the responsible party to discuss the transition from pollution response to salvage efforts.

The owner of the Chu Zai Fa No. 1, the responsible party, will now continue work with local authorities to develop salvage plans for the grounded fishing vessel.

The fishing vessel is currently aground in the surf zone and split in half with the bow and stern portions sitting side by side.

Although the vessel is devoid of any potential pollution product, the site immediately around the vessel and the vessel itself are dangerous. The vessel is in a heavy surf zone and its structure is compromised. Non-response personnel should remain clear of the vessel and surrounding area.

The Taiwanese-flagged vessel reportedly caught fire Nov. 4, 2017, in international waters prompting the crew to abandon ship into a life raft and were rescued by the crew of a Korean-flagged vessel, transferred to a sister fishing vessel and eventually disembarked in Fiji. The master of the Chu Zai Fa No. 1 and one crewmember reportedly remain missing. The Chu Zai Fa No. 1 remained adrift until its grounding Monday.