Virgin Islands National Park has announced a revised schedule for the removal of approximately 50 displaced vessels from Hurricane Hole, Leinster Bay, Mary Creek and Hassel Island. Operations are now scheduled to begin on St. John on Sunday, Aug. 12. Once operations are concluded on St. John, salvage operations will move to Hassel Island.
A variety of factors ranging from weather changes to equipment failures could change this schedule. Because of hazardous conditions associated with the use of cranes and barges and for the safety of personnel working in park and monument waters, portions of Hurricane Hole, Leinster Bay, Mary Creek and the waters surrounding Hassel Island will be closed to park visitors and boat traffic while operations are occurring.
This project will involve the U.S. Navy’s Supervisor of Salvage and Diving (SUPSALV) program and their contractor who will use barges, cranes, and other equipment to remove vessels sunk or washed aground within the park. Vessels will be transported via barge to a salvage facility in the mainland United States for disposal.
Following hurricanes Irma and Maria, over 90 vessels either washed aground or sunk in waters surrounding Virgin Islands National Park; however, a large number of these vessels have been removed by vessel owners. Remaining vessels create a hazard to boaters and swimmers, can leak fuel, sewage or other substances, and they can damage reefs, seagrass, mangroves and shorelines.
Funding for the vessel removal is provided by the National Park Service.
For additional information regarding vessel removal, contact Christy McManus at 201-4364 or email: [email protected]. Updates will be posted on the Storm Refuge Page at https://www.nps.gov/vicr/learn/management/hurricane-hole-storm-refuge.htm (www.nps.gov)