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Navy to pay state $8.5 million for Port Royal grounding

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 3:21 p.m. HST, Feb 4, 2011

An $8.5 million settlement has been reached between the Navy and the state over coral reef damage caused by the grounding of the USS Port Royal in 2009.

The settlement boosts the amount the Navy will have expended to a total of $15 million, according to a news release. The Navy had previously spent $6.5 million restoring the reef.

The Port Royal, a guided-missile cruiser, ran aground the night of Feb. 5, 2009, and was freed early on Feb. 9. To minimize damage, Navy divers did initial work reattaching some coral colonies and moving rocks that might have caused further damage in high surf condition.

"This settlement agreement recognizes the State of Hawaii's loss of a natural resource and takes into account the U.S. Navy's unprecedented efforts to restore the reef where USS Port Royal ran aground," said Rear Adm. Timothy Giardina, U.S. Pacific Fleet deputy commander.  

"We believe the Navy has done the right thing by acknowledging its responsibility, working cooperatively with the state to restore the reef, and completing a settlement that will provide funding for protection of the state's marine resources," said William J. Aila, State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources interim chairperson. 

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