DLNR pays $150,000 contract to salvage sailboat - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

DLNR pays $150,000 contract to salvage sailboat

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A costly cleanup on the Big Island has prompted a new state policy. The Department of Land and Natural Resources wants to ensure that boat owners have adequate insurance coverage in the event of an accident or grounding. The state hired Sea Engineering to remove the wreckage of the Hawaii Aloha under a $150,000 contract. The 84-ton vessel capsized and later ran aground along the Kona coast on January 3, 2015.

"At first we thought the boat would have to be helicoptered out because it was a cement boat, but it turned out it it could be brought out with an excavator so it was drug up on shore. The boat was then crushed and hauled away," explained Ed Underwood, administrator of the DLNR Division of Boating & Ocean Recreation.

The Christian group Youth With a Mission (YWAM) owned the Hawaii Aloha. Rescuers saved the captain and three crew members, but never found 24-year-old Aaron Bremner. YWAM had liability insurance, but its policy didn't cover the cost.

"9 times out of 10, the general liability insurances will cover, but as you can see in this one it didn't," said Underwood. "The only way we can really cover something like that is to read each and every policy which can be very difficult."

The state requires general liability insurance of at least $500,000 for all vessels moored in its facilities. As a result of the grounding, the DLNR created a new policy that now extends the restriction to temporary mooring permits offshore.

"The reason for that is to protect the state in this event," said Underwood.

"We really want to do everything we can to take care of the environment, the area where the boat was, and just to take the cost of salvaging the boat," said Phil Cunningham of YWAM Ships Kona.

YWAM is raising funds to reimburse the state for the cleanup cost and to buy another boat to continue its mission work in isolated communities. The group estimates the Hawaii Aloha was worth about $950,000.

"They will not be able to register another boat in the state. They will not be able to attain another permit in the state until such time as those costs are paid back in full," Underwood said.

Underwood said divers found limited damage to the environment after inspecting the wreckage and the surrounding areas. Members of YWAM plan to clean up the remaining debris in the water next week.

A memorial service for Bremner will be held on January 17 in his hometown in California.

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