Thursday, January 29, 2015

Tug Sinks Off Hawaii Coast

By Mark Edward Nero

Eleven people were rescued and a thin sheen of oil was visible in the water after a 95-foot towing vessel sank about two and half miles west of Barbers Point Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii on Jan. 22.

Watch standers at the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu command center received a call at 3:13 pm from the pilot aboard the towing vessel Nalani stating their vessel was taking on water and they were in danger of sinking.

The Coast Guard Cutter Kittiwake, an 87-foot coastal patrol boat homeported in Honolulu launched to the scene, along with a 45-foot response boat crew from Coast Guard Station Honolulu and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point.

The towing vessel Tiger 7 and a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration patrol boat also heard the distress call and arrived on scene to assist.

The crew of the NOAA vessel safely rescued nine crewmembers, while the Tiger 7 crew rescued two. All 11 survivors were wearing lifejackets; no injuries were reported.

Shortly after the rescue, all 11 survivors were transported back to Honolulu.

The Nalani sank in about 2,200 feet of water and was carrying an estimated 75,000 gallons of diesel fuel. An oil sheen was observed by Coast Guard responders before nightfall, but as of Jan. 25, shoreline and near-shore assessments indicated no sheening or smell of diesel, and no oiled wildlife has been observed, according to the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard is conducting an investigation into the sinking and has begun interviews with the crew. The cause of the sinking is unknown and is under investigation. The vessel has not been recovered.