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NEWS | Dec. 20, 2023

U.S. Coast Guard concludes M/V Voyager pollution response, continues discussions for removal

By Chief Warrant Officer Sara Muir, U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia / Sector Guam

In response to the grounding of the motor vessel Voyager, a 116-foot Indonesian-flagged ship, adjacent to Piti Channel in Typhoon Mawar on May 24, 2023, the U.S. Coast Guard, under the leadership of Capt. Nicholas Simmons, the commander of U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam and the Captain of the Port (COTP), has taken decisive action to protect Guam's waterways.

By late November, the operation successfully recovered approximately 51,000 gallons of fuel oil mixture, around four cubic yards of oiled debris, and various hazardous substances from the M/V Voyager, prioritizing environmental safety and the likelihood of operational success. The U.S. Coast Guard team is continuing discussions with partners to advocate for the removal of the vessel from its current location.

"Our top priorities are ensuring the safety of our waterways and safeguarding the environment. We have carefully considered our options and have decided to leave the vessel in its current location for the time being, given the situation's complexities," said Capt. Simmons.

The decision not to sink or move the vessel was made after a thorough evaluation, taking into account potential environmental impacts. While this choice drew concerns from some in the community, the U.S. Coast Guard remains dedicated to ongoing dialogue with all stakeholders, including the Port Users Group, charter boat operators, and the local maritime community. The COTP is also scheduled to further brief the governor before the new year.

Capt. Simmons further emphasized, "We understand and acknowledge the concerns raised by waterway users and the community. Safety and commerce are paramount, and we will continue to monitor the situation closely, taking all necessary steps to prevent any major adverse effects."

The M/V Voyager incident underscores the challenges of marine salvage operations and the importance of responsible maritime practices. The U.S. Coast Guard remains committed to working collaboratively with local partners to enhance regional maritime safety and security.

Background

In July 2021, the M/V Voyager arrived in Guam and underwent an initial Port State Control examination by U.S. Coast Guard examiners in advance of planned repairs and a sale. A follow-up examination in September 2021 revealed significant deficiencies and concerns over crew abandonment. By October, plans for repairs through Guam Shipyard were made, but the crew was repatriated in November when the owner took no action. In November 2021, Guam Shipyard became the caretaker. In February 2023, the Port of Guam demanded removal, leading to legal disputes. By March 2023, the agent for the vessel legally took possession from the owner due to a lack of response. Typhoon Mawar in May 2023 caused grounding, the federalization of the case, and a pollutant removal operation. Complex discussions surround the vessel's future due to salvage complexities, legal aspects, and regulatory requirements.

-USCG-

About U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam

U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam is responsible for safeguarding U.S. waters in the Oceania region, ensuring maritime safety, security, and environmental protection. The Coast Guard collaborates with Pacific partners and stakeholders to uphold the highest standards of maritime excellence.