Defueling of grounded yacht at Honolua is complete; Salvage begins on Sunday
Defueling of the 120-ton luxury yacht, Nakoa, is now complete, and salvage of the vessel is expected to start on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2023.
The grounding was reported six days ago, just outside the Honolua-Mokulē’ia Marine Life Conservation District.
The US Coast Guard assumed responsibility for the operation to remove an estimated 470 gallons of petroleum products, other hazardous substances, and 14 marine batteries off the yacht.
USCG retained Sea Engineering Inc. of Honolulu as the contractor. Sea Engineering hired Maui-based Pacific Helicopters Hawai‘i to fly 55-gallon drums of fuel from the boat’s stern to a staging area near the top of Līpoa Point, where they were transported by truck for disposal.
Sea Engineering President Andrew Rocheleau said the 2.5 days to defuel the Nakoa took longer because the vessel is listing, or leaning to one side, at the shoreline, so fuel moved into baffles within the boat’s 2,400-gallon tank. “It took additional time to get into each of those compartments and either pump diesel out or use absorbent pads to soak it up,” he said.
Chief David Jones, of the USCG Sector Honolulu called the defueling a success saying. “For the last five days we’ve been working with the contractors from Sea Engineering and Pacific Helicopters, starting with getting on the vessel and putting absorbent materials down to collect any free petroleum products. Then for the last three days we’ve had the flight operations. Folks on deck pumped any fuel, oils, and other materials out of tanks and machinery spaces into the barrels, where they were airlifted to land to be hauled off for proper disposal,” he said in a news release.
Rocheleau said despite the challenges, he described the process as fairly streamlined. “Even before the USCG and the DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation were notified by the vessel’s owner that he couldn’t pay for defueling or salvage of the 94-foot-long yacht, discussions and planning were already underway between the agencies and contractors.
“It takes time, as you have to assess risk to personnel, planning for safe helicopter operations, procurement, and being sure that all government rules, regulations, and laws are followed,” Rocheleau explained.
Now that defueling is finished, the vessel is under the control of DOBOR. The division contracted Visionary Marine LLC of Honolulu to salvage the vessel and the company is expected to begin work Sunday morning.
The dirt road leading into a viewing area at Līpoa Point will remain closed during the salvage operations for everyone’s safety.