The U.S. Coast Guard said it is on schedule to remove the grounded, 79-foot Pacific Paradise fishing vessel off the reef at Kaimana Beach in Waikiki by Saturday afternoon.
Today, a team is double checking hatches, patching and overall watertight security, according to U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman Sara Muir, and will begin to level out the boat this evening in preparation for a towboat to take it away at high tide at about 3 p.m. tomorrow.
“It’s very slow,” she said. “We don’t want to do it too quickly and make it worse. The goal is to have it afloat by roughly midday tomorrow.”
Once afloat, the boat needs to be shifted a little to the left to get it away from the reef, she said.
The fishing boat ran aground the night of Oct. 10 with 20 people — an American captain and 19 foreign workers — on board. Several initial attempts by a salvage company to remove the boat failed.
Two weeks ago, a helicopter removed 16 sheets of steel from the boat to increase its buoyancy. Earlier this week, crews patched an 18-inch crack in a forward bulkhead, according to the Coast Guard, and pumped an oily water mix out of the port tank. An estimated 1,500 gallons of fuel could still be on the vessel.
On Wednesday, a team of six divers from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources also began assessing the reef for damage.
As a precautionary measure, Muir said the Coast Guard has oil response equipment aboard the JW Barnes work vessel and pre-staged at Waikiki Aquarium during final preparations.
The Coast Guard plans to tow the fishing vessel to an Environmental Protection Agency-approved disposal site 13 miles south of Oahu, where it will be sunk.
Beachgoers are asked to observe a 500-yard safety zone around the vessel. Temporary flight restrictions are in place in the area from noon today until 8 p.m. Saturday.