Doug Helton is our guest blogger again today. Doug is operations coordinator for NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration Emergency Response Division.
Stranded and damaged yachts, fishing vessels, and even large ships are a common sight after a coastal natural disaster. The recent tsunami that struck American Samoa was no exception. Although the commercial port in Pago Pago Harbor escaped the worst of the damage, the small boat harbor and inner harbor anchorage areas received some of the greatest wave heights. We spoke with some of the locals and heard pretty amazing stories about sailors who found themselves first stranded by the receding waters, having their dock lines snap, and then riding out the waves. One small fishing boat was carried several hundred yards and ended up in the middle of a destroyed building at the head of the harbor. Others ended up on roads or on docks.
Some of the damaged boats were already derelict before the tsunami. People abandon boats for all sorts of reasons, and they often collect in harbor areas. These boats can still have fuel oil and hazardous materials aboard, and when they sink can cause all sorts of environment problems.
I am from the Pacific Northwest. The more I thought
about it, I thought I had seen this boat before. I went
through my computer files and found another
picture I had taken of it in 2005!
I have been interested in the issue for a number of years, and the NOAA Marine Debris Program and the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program have helped to fund some of my research. More information at http://marinedebris.noaa.gov/about/abandoned_vessel.html