Navy, state reach settlement on USS Port Royal reef damage

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The U.S. Navy and the state have agreed to settle the state's claims for damage to its coral reef resulting from the 2009 grounding of the USS Port Royal for $8.5 million. As a result of this settlement, the Navy will have expended a total of $15 million, which includes $6.5 million previously spent restoring the reef.

"This settlement agreement recognizes the State of Hawaii's loss of a natural resource and takes into account the U.S. Navy's unprecedented efforts to restore the reef where USS Port Royal ran aground," said Rear Adm. Timothy Giardina, U.S. Pacific Fleet deputy commander.

"We believe the Navy has done the right thing by acknowledging its responsibility, working cooperatively with the state to restore the reef, and completing a settlement that will provide funding for protection of the state's marine resources," said William J. Aila, state Department of Land and Natural Resources interim chairperson.

USS Port Royal ran aground a half-mile off the Honolulu International Airport Reef Runway the night of Feb. 5, 2009. The ship was freed four days later and the Navy immediately began working with the state to restore the site.

The state notified the Navy it intended to file a claim for damage to the reef. The Navy, meanwhile, reattached almost 5,400 coral colonies and removed 250 cubic yards of rubble before high surf ended the effort, the largest and most expensive reef restoration project the Navy has ever undertaken.

Copyright Hawaii News Now 2011. All rights reserved.