What's up with DLNR boat with tree growing out of its engine?

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Environmental watchdog Carroll Cox wants to know why a state enforcement boat isn't doing its job, and breaking rules other boaters must follow.

When the Department of Land and Natural Resources didn't answer his questions, he contacted Hawaii News Now.

The DLNR enforcement boat is hardly in ship shape. There's actually a tree growing out of its engine.

According to Cox, "Someone alerted me believe it or not there's a tree. I couldn't believe it, so I went to check it out at the Ala Wai. Sure enough, there's a tree, a mangrove growing out of the engine."

The propellers aren't any better. They're encrusted in barnacles.

Cox has been watching the enforcement boat, sit idle, at the Ala Wai boat harbor for years. Ironically, breaking one of the rules it's supposed to enforce.

"You must demonstrate your boat is able to power out by its own power go around a buoy and come back" explains Cox. "Apparently the rules don't apply to and are different to the State."

The boat finally did move today, but not on its own.

Vessel Assist was hired to rope, tow, and haul it out of the water. We found it sitting on a trailer at the Keehi Marine Center. We also spotted an expired boat registration.

Cox is appalled that a boat meant to patrol and help in emergencies is wasting away, with expensive electronic equipment on board.

Sources told Cox the state dumped money into engine repairs and bottom painting. He wants DLNR to explain what gives. He says, "For some reason, my request for information found a need for them to hurry up and hide it, tuck it away. It still doesn't answer is this going to be back in service or is the taxpayer going to eat another chunk of change just to clean it up?"

DLNR issued this statement to Hawaii News Now:

In 1996, when the Department of Public Safety Marine Patrol Unit merged with the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement, a 29-foot 1992 Munson manufactured patrol boat was part of the fleet turned over to DOCARE.

At the time it was a valuable addition to the DOCARE's assets and was used for various ocean enforcement efforts for more than 15 years.

As with any piece of equipment, over time the boat required increasing expenses to maintain it.

About 1 ½ years ago it was recommended that the vessel be decommissioned and taken out of service.

Following the proper protocols for disposal of State property, the vessel was offered to other state agencies, without success.

Meanwhile, it was moored at the Ala Wai small boat harbor; however it should not have been allowed to remain there and deteriorate. We have removed it and will be looking at the best options for disposing of it.

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