Hurricane Isaac Passed, 'Jireh' Salvage Continues

Thursday, August 30, 2012
'Jireh' Salvage: Photo courtesy of NOAA

Salvage crews & coral ecologists return to Mona Island, Puerto Rico, to cut apart the grounded freighter M/V Jireh.

The U.S. Coast Guard and the rest of the response crew have been working carefully to cut up portions of the ship, in order to lighten the vessel enough to refloat and remove it from the reef. Once disassembled, the removed portions of the ship are loaded onto a barge and taken to Puerto Rico for recycling.

In previous ship salvage cases involving coral habitats, biologists have observed considerable coral damage from not only the physical placement of anchors, cables, and support vessels, but also continued shifting and grinding from the grounded vessel. As a result, crews are working carefully to keep that from happening here.

In such a long and complicated salvage project, it is impossible to prevent all impacts, but crews are continuing to remove and reattach corals at risk from the grounded ship. Nearly 1,000 corals have been moved already. These transplanted corals are expected to have a high survival rate and reduce the overall impacts from the vessel removal operation.

Once the ship is refloated, the plan is to scuttle the wreck 12 miles away from Mona Island. After it is sunk, the wreckage is not expected to pose any additional risk to corals or other marine life.

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