21 containers overboard from barge off Hilo

The following is text of a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard:

(HONOLULU) — The Coast Guard continues to investigate the loss of 21 cargo containers from the barge Ho Omaka Hou and monitor response operations in Hawaii on Tuesday (June 30).

All cargo was successfully removed from the barge over the weekend, and it returned safely to Honolulu on Monday, where a further damage assessment is being conducted. 

Of the 21 missing containers, 12 remain unlocated. One was initially located north of Hilo and sank. One washed ashore at Onomea beach, where it was refloated and towed to Hilo Harbor. The rest were recovered to Hilo Harbor and were removed from the water. 

On June 22, the tug Hoku Loa operator reported to the Coast Guard a loss of cargo from the barge Ho Omaka Hou as they transited from Honolulu to Hilo Harbor in the early morning. 

Coast Guard watch standers issued a broadcast notice to mariners to alert any traffic in the area to keep a sharp lookout for any containers that may pose a hazard to navigation. Operations began shortly after that to locate the missing cargo and remove those containers still aboard the barge in Hilo. 

The incident is a reportable marine casualty under federal regulations as defined by the criteria in the Code of Federal Regulations for all commercial maritime operations. As a matter of routine and in line with standard practices surrounding a marine casualty, the Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause of the incident. Both agencies produce their own summary of findings. 

The shipping company, Young Brothers, worked cooperatively with the Coast Guard to address the situation and is conducting an independent investigation. 

The State of Hawaii Department of Transportation Harbors Division is also aware and assisted in cargo operations at the pier in Hilo. 


(HONOLULU) — The Coast Guard is continuing the response Tuesday (June 23) to a report of containers lost from the barge Ho Omaka Hou inbound to Hilo Harbor on Monday.

A Cates Marine salvage team hired by the shipping company continues to search for and locate missing containers.

Two containers have been successfully towed and secured in Hilo Harbor. Another two containers are located and marked. Cates Marine personnel will continue retrieving known containers throughout the day from the original cluster of nine. The four containers previously mentioned are part of this nine, located about 8 miles north of Hilo. A 250-ton crane has been contracted to lift containers out of the water in Hilo by American Marine.

Plans are in place to begin operation to remove the recovered containers from the water in Hilo Harbor tomorrow morning. The company has developed a salvage plan to offload the barge and will submit it to Coast Guard Sector Honolulu personnel for review and approval. Once begun, offloading in expected to take several days. Only one container has been found to contain hazardous materials in the form of small household cleaners and usage materials. This container is on the barge and not in the water. Twelve containers remain unaccounted for; aerial overflights were conducted today with no additional sightings.

Coast Guard personnel are working with the company, Young Brothers, to investigate the incident. The event has been deemed a reportable marine casualty, meeting the criteria for such designation under the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. The National Transportation Safety Board has been advised and is acting in a supporting role. Young Brothers is also conducting an independent investigation into the incident.

A Coast Guard broadcast notice to mariners remains in effect for the waters off Hilo to advise mariners to use extra caution while transiting the area and keep a sharp lookout for any signs of containers that may present a hazard to navigation.


(HONOLULU) — The Coast Guard is responding to a report of lost cargo from the barge Ho Omaka Hou as the tugboat Hoku Loa, and its barge, were transiting to Hilo Harbor on Monday. 

The Coast Guard is investigating the incident, and Young Brothers is working with a salvage team to locate and recover as many containers as possible. No injuries are reported. 

Watch standers issued a broadcast notice to mariners to alert any traffic in the area to keep a sharp lookout for any containers that may pose a hazard to navigation. 

The tug operator reported that at 4:30 a.m. Monday, several 40-foot shipping containers fell overboard. That number currently stands at 21. Nine of those have been located, 12 remain missing. The crew of the tug and barge recognized the containers were missing after mooring in Hilo. Containers are reportedly adrift approximately 8 miles north of Hilo, and one is reported adrift in Hilo Harbor. 

The Coast Guard is working with Young Brothers personnel to assess the situation further, including determining what cargo is lost and on the investigation. Marine safety personnel were dispatched to the incident command post in Hilo, and an overflight is taking place. The Hawaii Department of Transportation Harbors Division is also aware and assisting at the pier in Hilo.  

At the time of the incident, the weather was east winds at 12 mph, waves to 4 feet with a south swell at 3 feet, and isolated showers.

By Professional Mariner Staff