Quantcast
StarBulletin.com

Navy cruiser dumps 5,000 gallons of slop


By

POSTED: Wednesday, February 11, 2009

State health officials said the Navy did not promptly report the dumping of 5,000 gallons of sewage from the USS Port Royal while it was stuck on a shoal south of Honolulu Airport.

Watson Okubo, chief of the monitoring and analysis section of the Health Department's Clean Water Branch, said yesterday the discharge occurred between Friday night and 10 a.m. Sunday.

Okubo said the Navy never mentioned the discharge of raw sewage even though two Health Department representatives attended a Navy briefing Sunday afternoon at Pearl Harbor.

The spill was reported yesterday by the state Office of Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response.

A Navy spokesman said the dumping was necessary to protect the health and welfare of the 320 sailors who were on the ship, but it didn't intentionally mislead the state.

In addition to the discharge by the Port Royal, the Navy's Fort Kamehameha waste-water treatment plant also dumped 12,700 gallons of treated but not disinfected sewage into the channel leading into Pearl Harbor. The Health Department said signs were posted advising the public to stay out of waters fronting the reef runway from the Keehi Channel to the Pearl Harbor channel. The area is a popular diving area for tako, or octopus.

Capt. Scott Gureck, Pacific Fleet spokesman, said because of the ongoing investigation into the grounding he could not confirm how much sewage was dumped by the Port Royal.

However, Gureck said the dumping occurred because the warship could only “;store about a day's worth of waste water and had to discharge it to protect the health and welfare of the ship.”;

“;It was done at ebb tide to carry the waste water away from shore,”; he said.

Gureck said the Navy had hoped to offload the waste water as well about 25,000 gallons of marine diesel fuel on Saturday, but sea conditions prevented the transfer.

The $1 billion warship was finally unlodged early Monday from its perch about a half-mile south of the reef runway, where it had been stuck since 8:30 p.m. Thursday.

The Port Royal unloaded more than 600 tons - including dumping 500 tons of seawater used as ballast and offloading another 100 tons in anchors, anchor chains, equipment and half of its 320 crew members - to make the 9,600-ton warship lighter.

The 15-year-old warship suffered damage to an underwater sonar dome and its propellers. It is expected to enter the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard's dry dock by next week for repairs. The Navy has not released the cost of repairing the warship.

Capt. Neil Parrott, a staff officer assigned to Naval Surface Force in San Diego, is investigating the grounding.

Rear Adm. Dixon Smith, commander of Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, relieved Capt. John Carroll as Port Royal's commanding officer pending the results of the investigation. Carroll had assumed command of the Port Royal in October.

Before taking command of the Port Royal, Carroll was the reactor officer aboard the nuclear carrier USS George Washington; commanded the frigate Rodney M. Davis; and served as the executive officer of the frigates USS Gary and USS Thach. He also served aboard the frigate USS Ford and the carrier USS Enterprise.

Capt. John Lauer III, who is assigned to the staff of Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, was temporarily assigned as the guided missile cruiser's commanding officer.