VIDEO: Bonnie G fuel removal gets underway

Written by Nick Blenkey
Bonnie G response fuel removal

Salvage superintendent Robert Weihe waits for the Harvey Challenger crew to give him the word to start the pumps removing the fuel on the Bonnie G off Cyril E. King Airport, St. Thomas, Oct. 22, 2023. [U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Nicole J. Groll]

The response to the Bonnie G grounding incident is making progress off Cyril E. King Airport, in Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands with fuel removal starting. The 195-foot Vanuatu-flagged RO/RO cargo vessel, originally delivered in 1981 as an OSV and managed by West Palm Beach, Fla., based MMS Americas LLC., grounded there October 4 during Tropical Storm Philippe, when all 12 people on board had to be rescued.

Since then, response efforts have been ongoing and, on Sunday, the Harvey Gulf International Marine offshore supply vessel Harvey Challenger arrived on scene from Port Fourchon, La., at approximately 6 a.m., to offload fuel from the Bonnie G.

Pollution responders and salvors spent the morning rigging and connecting fuel hoses, air hoses, and pumps from the Bonnie G to the Harvey Challenger. The fuel was pumped with air compressors from the Bonnie G to three large tanks mounted to the deck of the Harvey Challenger.

All precautions are being taken to ensure the safety of the responders and that fuel doesn’t go into the water.

The Coast Guard has implemented a one mile safety zone around the vessel to ensure that responders have a safe area to work. Vessel operators choosing to violate the safety zone could impede fuel removal and refloating operations causing a delay in the vessel removal from the area.

After all the fuel is removed, the next step will be to refloat the grounded vessel safely and then bring it in for repair or salvage. As of yesterday, a destination was still being decided.

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