In a case that is sure to add to the lore of containers that have been lost overboard becoming hazards to navigation, the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating an incident that occurred off Hawaii’s Big Island on June 22.
Twenty-one containers fell off a Young Brothers barge that was being towed from Honolulu, Oahu, to Hilo, Hawaii. Crewmembers discovered the containers were missing at 4:30 a.m. as the barge Ho’omaka Hou, towed by the tug Hoku Loa, approached Hilo Harbor. At the time of the incident, the weather was east winds at 12 mph, waves to 4 feet with a south swell at 3 feet, and isolated showers.
The loss of the containers set off what Hawaii News Now called “a massive salvage project.”
Nine of the containers were located but 12 are still unaccounted for. At least two of the containers were found floating. One photo shows a salvage vessel with a towline on one of these floating containers. The image is the classic case of the floating or partially submerged container that forms the nighttime hazard in many a voyager’s mind. Hitting such an object at night sailing at speed would likely result in hull damage.