Guam – As of late Tuesday, Guam Shipyard had finalized plans to recover the floating drydock Machinist or “Big Blue,” which took on water and became partially submerged the night before. The U.S. Coast Guard was also in the process of establishing a Unified Command with Guam Environmental Protection Agency and Guam Shipyard to manage the recovery process.
Coast Guard Sector Guam reviewed the shipyard’s plans, which outline the shipyard’s commitment to work with oil recovery contractor GRESCO, under the supervision of the Coast Guard and Guam EPA, to prevent pollution spills during salvage operations associated with the recovery of the drydock. “The primary concerns at this point are the safety of responders and mitigating the pollution threat,” said Captain Thomas M. Sparks, Commander, Sector Guam. “We are seeing cooperation between Guam Shipyard, GRESCO, and Guam EPA in addressing these concerns.”
Company officials reported no signs of petroleum leaking from the drydock’s oil tanks Tuesday after a team of divers conducted a survey of the vessel, and floating boom was deployed around the vessel as a precaution in case of a pollutant release. It is estimated that a potential 83,000 gallons of wastewater, mixture of oil or diesel with water, could be onboard “Big Blue.” However, soundings of the tanks are being conducted to ascertain the actual amount in each tank. Salvage operations to remove all the wastewater from the vessel and refloat the drydock are expected to proceed this week.
“Guam Shipyard is working with the U.S. Coast Guard to ensure that all the diesel and waste oil is safely removed prior to raising the drydock Machinist,” said Mathews Poten, President and CEO of Guam Shipyard. “Guam Shipyard has all the assets required to transfer the diesel and waste oil thereby mitigating potential pollution,” he said.
A Coast Guard investigation is ongoing into the cause of the incident.
The Coast Guard urges the public to report marine emergencies to the Coast Guard Sector Guam Command Center at 671-564-USCG