The U.S. Coast Guard confirmed that 21 shipping containers fell off a barge en route to Hilo Harbor early this morning.
According to a statement from the Coast Guard, several 40-foot containers fell from the barge Ho‘omaka Hou at about 4:30 in the morning, although the crew of the barge and its tug, the Hoku Loa, did not notice the missing containers until after mooring in Hilo.
Young Brothers, which operates the barge, has yet to determine the full contents of the missing containers. The shipping company is also working with a salvage team to retrieve as many containers as possible.
So far, nine of the containers have been located, while the remaining 12 have yet to be found. Most of the located containers are reportedly adrift approximately 8 miles north of Hilo Harbor, while one is adrift in Hilo Bay.
No cause for the incident has yet been disclosed. However, the weather was relatively placid at the time of the incident, with east winds at 12 mph, isolated showers, and 4-foot waves.
The Coast Guard, Young Brothers and the state Department of Transportation’s Harbors Division are investigating the incident. Mariners are advised to travel with caution, as containers may pose navigational hazards.