Container ship goes aground entering the port of Saipan
Saipan, CNMI — A Unified Command (UC) and Incident Command Post (ICP) have been established in response to the grounding of the container ship PAUL RUSS.
The PAUL RUSS remains aground in the vicinity of buoy number 3 along the navigation channel entering the port of Saipan. With both preliminary inspections completed, there have been no reports of the vessel taking on water or discharge of oil. The vessel has an estimated 400,000 gallons of intermediate fuel oil (IFO 380) onboard. IFO 380 is a blend of gasoil and heavy fuel oil, which is used as a marine fuel oil.
While conducting dive operations, divers discovered what appears to be unexploded ordnance behind and next to the grounded vessel. All response operations in the vicinity of the vessel have been suspended until the U.S. Navy Explosives Ordnance Division (USN EOD) can assess and safely remove the items. A 500 yard safety zone will be strictly enforced 24 hours a day, preventing vessels from entering or departing the port of Saipan. On-shore operations continue towards salvage and response plans.
The UC is located at the CNMI CPA Saipan Seaport to monitor and coordinate overall response efforts for the mitigation of potential pollution and vessel removal and salvage. The UC is made up of U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Federal On-Scene Coordinator, Commonwealth Ports Authority (CPA), CNMI Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM), CNMI Department of Public Safety (DPS), CNMI Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) and vessel’s representative. An ICP is staged near the scene at the Smiling Cove Marina, which will coordinate the resourcing of response personnel and equipment near the incident area. Response personnel from the agencies that make up the UC are operating out of the ICP.
Initial response to the incident came from DPS, HSEM, CPA, CNMI Crisis Management Strike Team, CTSI Logistics (vessel’s agent), U.S. Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Two-Five, USCG Marine Safety Detachment Saipan, and USCG Sector Guam. The vessel’s representative has identified and contracted a company to conduct salvage and pollution response and have personnel on scene.
U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port (COTP) Guam has established a 500 yard safety zone around the grounded vessel in the vicinity of buoy number 3. Mariners are not authorized within the zone without authorization from COTP Guam. COTP Guam may be contacted on VHF-FM channel 16. Mariners, recreational boaters and persons are advised to exercise extreme caution in areas in the vicinity around the safety zone due to the dangers associated with the grounded vessel and unexploded ordinance.