Debris from ship still in ocean


POSTED: Thursday, February 12, 2009

Navy divers still have to recover several propeller blades that were lost when the 9,600-ton USS Port Royal grounded off a rocky shoal just south of the Honolulu Airport's reef runway.

Agnes Tauyan, spokeswoman for Navy Region Hawaii, said divers assigned to Mobile Diving Salvage Unit One retrieved an anchor and chain as well as one of the blades yesterday.

On Tuesday the divers recovered one of two bow anchors and chains that were dropped by the Port Royal to lighten the load so it could be refloated.

The ship ran aground last Thursday night while offloading passengers. It took four tries and nine vessels to nudge the cruiser off its perch early Monday morning. This was after 600 tons of salt water used as ballast, anchors, anchor chains and 135 sailors were taken off the Port Royal to lighten it.

The 567-foot warship is expected to be taken to Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard's dry dock next week.

On Tuesday the Navy met with representatives from the U.S. Interior Department, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state attorney general's office and state Department of Land Natural Resources to discuss what happened and whether any remedial work will have to be done to the grounding site.

“;We are working with the state to determine a way ahead with respect to any impact assessment from the grounding,”; Tauyan said.

The Navy was further embarrassed when the state Health Department disclosed Tuesday that the Port Royal had dumped 5,000 gallon of raw sewage and not reported the incident. A Navy spokesman said that if the Port Royal had not discharged the waste water, it would have backed up into the ship.

Deborah Ward, spokeswoman for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, said divers will examine the site once it is deemed safe.

The Port Royal was lodged in 20 feet of water where the ocean bottom is mainly sand and rock.

Capt. John Carroll, skipper of the Port Royal since October, was relieved of duty pending the outcome of a Navy investigation.