Big Island to Receive 2 Emergency Vessels for Hurricane Season

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Hurricane season has arrived in Hawai‘i, and emergency services are being bolstered on neighbor islands as a result.

The Hawai‘i Department of Transportation (HDOT) Harbors Division is placing four new Security and Disaster Recovery vessels into service across the neighbor islands, according to an HDOT press release. The Security and Disaster Recovery vessels will be ported at Hilo, Kawaihae, Nawiliwili, and Kahului Harbors and can support emergency operations at Port Allen, Kaunakakai, and Kaumalapau Harbors.

“After a hurricane, tsunami, or earthquake, one of the first steps in getting our commercial harbors back up and running to support the delivery of needed supplies is underwater surveys to make sure there are no obstructions that could cause damage to the ships and barges that make our State’s hub and spoke system possible,” said Hawai‘i Department of Transportation Director Jade Butay. “These vessels will enable us to do the surveys quickly and accurately.”

The four aluminum monohulled vessels were designed in collaboration with the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and come equipped with portable side scan sonar for the assessments. The total cost for the vessels was $1.4 million, which was paid for through the Harbors Special funds supported by tariffs and fees from the movement of cargo, according to the release.

“Delivery of the KuleanaKokuaKalewa, and the Ke Aliʻi O Ke Kai improves our emergency operations capabilities significantly,” said Hawai‘i Department of Transportation Deputy Director for Harbors Derek Chow. “Although we hope we won’t need to use them this hurricane season, it’s important to us to have the tools to ensure our commercial harbors can support safe navigation and the mooring of vessels post-disaster.”

Additional details and links to images of the Security and Disaster Recovery vessels follow:

  • Kuleana (Responsibility or Duty) – This 27-foot long vessel will be homeported in Hilo.
  • Kokua (To help or give aid) – This 27-foot long vessel will be stationed in Kawaihae.
  • Kalewa (To move or float with the wind) – This 27-foot long vessel will have Nawiliwili as its home port but will also support operations at Port Allen Harbor.
  • Ke Aliʻi O Ke Kai (The Chief of the Sea) – This vessel is 29-feet long and will be stationed in Kahului. The Ke Aliʻi O Ke Kai will also serve Kaunakakai Harbor on Molokai and Kaumalapau Harbor on Lana‘i.


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