Investigation into overboard shipping containers continues

  • Courtesy of KAI KAHELE Shipping containers aboard a Young Brothers vessel are seen early Monday in Hilo Harbor.

None of the shipping containers that fell from a Young Brothers barge Monday contained hazardous materials, according to a U.S. Coast Guard report.

The Coast Guard is continuing to investigate an incident where 21 shipping containers fell from the Young Brothers barge Ho‘omaka Hou as it approached Hilo Harbor early Monday.

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While the cause of the incident still has not been determined, the Coast Guard announced Tuesday that only one container being transported on the barge at the time of the incident contained hazardous materials — “household cleaners and usage materials” — and it did not fall from the barge.

Meanwhile, Honolulu salvage company Cates Marine Service is in the process of retrieving the drifting containers. Two of the containers were towed into Hilo Harbor and secured, while another two were marked. A 250-ton crane was contracted to lift the containers out of the sea after they are brought into the harbor.

However, despite conducting overflights Tuesday, the Coast Guard was unable to locate 12 containers that remain unaccounted for.

Young Brothers developed a plan to offload the rest of the containers, which shifted during their voyage, from the barge.

A statement Young Brothers released to its customers late Monday assured that the company’s sailing schedules will continue as usual but acknowledged that cargo availability from the Ho‘omaka Hou will be delayed.

The Coast Guard’s investigation is also being supported by the National Transportation Safety Board because the incident was designated a federally reportable marine casualty. Young Brothers is conducting its own independent investigation.

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The Coast Guard continues to advise mariners to maintain caution while traveling the waters off Hilo because the floating containers could present navigational hazards.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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