Defueling of grounded yacht at Honolua continues; Owner to be charged $460,000 for salvage cost alone
Work to remove fuel, other pollutants, and batteries from the grounded 94-foot-long luxury yacht Nakoa, will continue today (Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023) at Honolua Bay in northwest Maui.
Once defueling is complete, the vessel will be turned over to DLNR, which has contracted Visionary Marine of Honolulu to begin removal. The State will bill the yacht’s owner for reimbursement of the $460,000 salvage cost, and for additional staff and administrative costs, and take legal action if necessary.
According to state officials, the yacht owner informed DLNR that they are unable to contract and pay for the removal of the vessel, prompting state intervention. DLNR subsequently requested bids from experienced large vessel salvage companies, and the awarded the salvage contract to the company with the lowest price, that could start work the soonest.
After completing its investigation, DLNR may impose fines for any violations, and also seeks to work with community to heal and restore the coral and bay and deter any recurrence, according to a department news release.
“The grounding at Honolua Bay and harm to the reef that it caused is felt deeply by those connected to the special area of Honolua, Mokulē‘ia, and Līpoa,” said DLNR Chairperson Dawn Chang. “DLNR’s duty is to conserve the natural and cultural resources of Hawaiʻi, so when the owner of a grounded vessel refuses to pay for removal, and the vessel poses a continued risk to natural and cultural resources, we must step up and contract for the removal ourselves. Our natural and cultural resources come first.”
The DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement, the US Coast Guard, and the Maui Police Department will maintain the closure of the Līpoa Point dirt road for continued helicopter operations today. The road is expected to reopen as soon as the defueling process is completed.
USCG federalized the vessel, meaning it has jurisdiction over the yacht which cannot be moved until all potentially dangerous materials on board are removed.