Navy completes work on reef damaged by cruiser

Navy completes work on reef damaged by cruiser

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Navy officials say they are very encouraged after assessing work that was done to restore a coral reef damaged by the grounding USS Port Royal in February of 2009.

"The results of the recent assessments are very encouraging," said Rear Adm. Scott Van Buskirk, deputy commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet. "This, combined with Mother Nature's work during the summer months, has convinced the experts and us in the Navy that the best course is to let the environmentally impacted area continue to take care of itself."

The Port Royal, a guided missile cruiser, ran aground about one mile off the Honolulu International Airport's reef runway on February 5, 2009 and was freed three days later. There were no injuries or spills as a result of the grounding, but significant damage to both the ship and the coral reef were incurred.

The ship was in dry dock until September of 2009. After the collision, Navy contractors worked to restore the damaged area of the reef. Around 5,400 coral colonies were reattached the ocean floor and crews righted eight large boulders toppled in the accident.

Work on the restoration was suspended due to high surf in June. Subsequent investigations by marine biologists have led to the Navy's current determination that the reef is sufficiently stabilized. The Navy has spent more than seven million dollars on the restoration.