Fears Over Stranded Ship In Hawaiian Waters

James Banigan III
James Banigan III
Carolyn Golojuch
Carolyn Golojuch

By Paul Drewes

(KHNL) - A stranded ship sitting offshore is making some Oahu residents nervous about where it is headed next.

Some are worried because the ship, the Tong Cheng, is carrying ammunition among its cargo.

But along with that potentially explosive problem, some are also worried about how this ship will affect island businesses.

The Tong Cheng has a crack in its hull and can't travel the open ocean.

But repairs can't be done at sea, so it will be ported on Oahu.

Some in West Oahu have been told it will repaired at Kalaeloa Harbor.

But that will leave other companies, which currently use the busy piers, high and dry.

And leave neighbors worried about that ammunition on board.

"If that ship is brought in, we will have to leave the berth where our ship is, and drift at sea, until repairs are complete. Then we can come back. So you're talking money and demurrage claims and that will interrupt our flow of operations," says James Banigan III, of Schnitzer Steel Hawaii.

Banigan estimates the loss of a busy pier for island shipping, while the Tong Cheng is repaired, could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Others, like West Oahu resident Carolyn Golojuch, are worried about the safety of a ship with ammunition on board.

"If the chinese ship is ported over here and there's an accident and it blows, you're right next to the refinery," she says.

As the ship sits stranded in the water, questions have bubbled up by residents. And it's a lack of answers to those questions that has some most upset.

They don't know who to turn to for details.

While the state Department of Transportation normally handles the piers, in this case they are leaving decisions of where the ship will go, up to the Coast Guard.

KHNL News 8 has learned the ship's water tanks are being emptied and if it is light enough, it will be moved Thursday morning.