Repairs underway after historic ship in Honolulu Harbor starts taking on water

Repairs underway after historic ship in Honolulu Harbor starts taking on water

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Emergency repairs are underway on a historic ship after it started taking on water at Honolulu Harbor. And the state is paying for them.

It’s the latest blow in a series of setbacks for the non-profit trying to preserve the Falls of Clyde, the last four-masted, iron-hulled sailing oil tanker in the world.

On Wednesday afternoon, yellow tape blocked the entrance to Pier 7 as crews siphoned water from inside the bow of the 140-year-old ship.

In the meantime, a diver could be seen in the water patching the hull.

At last check, that diver identified four or five rusty seams where water is getting into the ship.

“I was here on Saturday and the vessel was laying flush like this here. When I got here this morning the whole bow was tilted forward,” said Ken Otebo, who was contracted to transfer water off of the ship onto his boat, the SOS Minnow. By 1 p.m. he said 60,000 gallons had been removed ― with plenty more to go.

“I believe the situation has at least been arrested,” said Otebo. “They’ve been able to stop the flow of water. They’ve been able to isolate where the cracks are. And we’ve been able to take as much water on our vessel as possible to raise the level of that vessel up.”

The maritime emergency comes just days after plans to ship the vessel back to Scotland for restoration fell through.

The state has set a deadline of Feb. 6 to have the ship out of Honolulu harbor.

A spokesman said Wednesday’s events validate the Department of Transportation’s longstanding concerns over safety.

“Moving forward we do still have the goal of removing the ship,” said spokesman Tim Sakahara. “We are looking at possibly auctioning off the vessel. However it won’t just be anybody making a bid on it. They have to prove they have the necessary funding and resources now to be able to move the ship.”

The head of the non-profit working to preserve the historic vessel, meanwhile, says he’s doing everything he can to make sure that doesn’t happen. Adding talks are ongoing to potentially move the vessel to the military base.

“We have been working for the last week and a half with Sen. Hirono’s chief of staff who’s been in contact with the Navy at Pearl Harbor,” said Friends of Falls of Clyde President Bruce McEwan.

Otebo estimates it will take between three and four days to rid the ship’s bow of water.

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