Tuesday, November 27, 2001

Coast Guard contains
sunken tug

The 65-foot Niau sits 30 to 40
feet below the surface at Pier 14

By Nelson Daranciang

U.S. Coast Guard officials are trying to find out what caused a tugboat to sink to the bottom of Honolulu Harbor yesterday.

The 65-foot Niau sank sometime before 5:30 a.m. at Pier 14, where it was moored. The captain of a vessel moored next to the Niau noticed the tug was missing and an oil slick was in its place, said Petty Officer Lauren Smith, Coast Guard spokeswoman.

Smith said the Coast Guard received reports that the vessel was operating Sunday night.

The Niau is sitting on the bottom of the harbor 30 to 40 feet down. Its mast is visible just below the surface.

The Coast Guard placed an oil containment barrier around the slick and absorbent pads on top of it to prevent the oil from spreading.

There were about 6,000 gallons of diesel fuel, 250 gallons of lube oil and 80 gallons of hydraulic oil aboard the Niau. Coast Guard officials do not know how much of the fuel or oil has leaked into the harbor.

The Niau is owned by Smith Maritime.

The company has not told the Coast Guard whether it plans to salvage the vessel or how it plans to prevent the rest of the fuel and oil from leaking into the harbor, the Coast Guard's Smith said.

Company officials were not available for comment yesterday.

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