PING DA #7 and 36 other abandoned shipwrecks on Pohnpei: An environmental disaster

  I just got through with a 10 day trip to Pohnpei to look at the wreck of the PING DA # 7. We counted geo located and assessed 36 other abandoned, sunken, semi submerged wrecks lying around the harbor, outside the reefs, and in the mangroves prior to making it out to PING DA #7. 
  The Ping Da # 7 is a Kiribati flagged, Chinese owned reefer ship that sits high and dry on one of the northern reefs protecting Pohnpei. It has been sitting pretty much at the point where it initially grounded since December of 2013. 
   Jaco Sluijmers and I visited the wreck in September of 2014 with an eye towards making up a salvage plan and presenting it to the FSM government. 
    During the September visit we found the PING DA # 7 had been ransacked, that fuel and lube oil had been removed, but certainly not all of it. We found buckets and barrels of various oils lying around in the engine room and in barrels and some half emptied day tanks and a filthy engine room that had been ransacked. We found an ammonia room that had a large tank holding pressurized liquid ammonia. Tons of it. During our Sept. 14 trip we found little material on the reef. 
   Upon our return on July 27 of this year we found junk thrown from the decks of the ship on to the reef. We found the reef had been painted by five gallon containers of paint thrown from the wreck. We found further efforts to ransack and remove items from the ship. We found considerable more corrosion to the fittings and tanks aboard the ship. We found barrels leaking on deck and the oil leaking into the ocean. We found water tight hatches and doors that were rusted open.  We also found the same oils and other pollutants that we found the first time we went on board. 
   The good news is the hull appears sufficiently intact to remove the vessel from the reef in a manner that would not create severe environmental damage. As she sits now PING DA # 7 can very likely be removed completely intact. 
I will continue with this post with more information on the wrecks and present some solutions to this ongoing catastrophe, this is a situation that all people on Pohnpei should be concerned with. 


  • Thank you very much whoever your real identity is for sharing the information as result for your unselfishness in trying to do what you've done so far. Yes, I as a Pohnpeian and who encourages the elimination of things that are bleaching and destroying our reefs will be happy to share the information you just shared above to my representatives in the State and National level leaders. Keep up the good work and most intriguing is that you're doing it without having to wait for the securing whether or not will compensated of what you're doing to Pohnpei on your own and desire time and effort.
  •  We watched the saga of the PING DA # 7 unfold from the beginning and we saw that there was going to be no funding coming from the insurance company covering the vessel. We also noted that the oil removal job was really not very well done or complete. We also see that the vessel is a huge pollution threat and that it has to come off. We are hoping to get the interest of the local population to try to convince Pohnpei State to maintain the state of emergency, and do what they can to convince the national government to seek aid. We know that putting together an aid package is impossible without up to date info. We want the salvage job, but we know it might take some time. We also know that no matter what we say or do, it is going to be the people of Pohnpei who will make this happen. We can offer technical advice, solutions and bring in the equipment if we can get the funding lined up. The important thing is for the government to ask for funding from abroad. With the PING DA and 36 other wrecks sitting on your reefs and in the mangroves Pohnpei has a compelling case to seek remediation and help. We can assist with securing funding only after a request is made. 
     It is a disaster. I have lived in Micronesia for 34 years and it breaks my heart to see the mess. Not only are we involved in a commercial venture to remove wrecks (becuase Mammoet does it very well) but is an act of love for the islands, the earth and all that live on it. Wreck removal under some type of international aid is a performance based endeavor that does not include extremely high profit margins..the funds are tightly controlled. 
     To fail would be very disappointing. 
      We know the leadership to assist with this exists on Pohnpei,
  • Hotshark, good job you are doing, however, the question is who is going to provide the funding for your work? And which insurance company are we talking about and what is the reason for its refusal to finance your operation? 
  • Isn't the company that OWNS the vessel responsible to pay for its removal and for the environmental clean-up?  If the company did not have good insurance, that is their problem, not ours.

    Has PNI state or FSM sued the owner(s)?   Have they banned them from fishing in the FSM until they clean up the mess they made?
  • Facts Matter....An attempt was made to locate the owner...who is a Chinese gentleman....he apparently has been able to avoid responsibility for the actions of his ship. I am not sure how he has managed to do this, I have heard that he gave everything to his wife and then divorced her....but this speculative and hard to confirm As of this writing the Chinese Embassy on Pohnpei has not cooperated in any attempts to hold them responsible for the actions of one of their citizens. As far as I know the Chinese government would have to recognize that the owner was involved in criminal activity to get a warrant out for him. The vessels insurance was voided due to the fact that it was operating outside of the geographical scope of its coverage. 
      No one has refused to finance our proposed operation. There is simply no money readily available to remove the wreck. Apparently the FSM and Pohnpei governments do not have the funds or are unwilling to spend them on removing the vessel. Revenues from fishing licensure and other fishing related activities are sufficient to remove the wreck, however there seems little desire to take any action. The funds are probably earmarked for other priorities. What is lacking is the political will to address the situation. This may be changing with some of the new politicians taking office. But only time will tell. 
      As of this writing the PING DA # 7 is sitting out on the reef with no security to protect folks who might go out there and hurt themselves and with no real declared plan to remove it from the reef. It is filthy with oil and other contamination and holds tons of foam insulation and pressurized ammonia. There are 36 other wrecks sitting on the reefs and in the mangroves, causing slow but sure damage to the areas where they rest and creating eyesores. As an outsider and not a resident of Pohnpei who is concerned with the situation and interested in offering a solution, all I can do is offer some facts as we found is critical that local people realize that this is a serious situation and try to initiate some kind of remedial action. Only when and if FSM asks for help will funding be available. Failure to request assistance and failure to recognize the danger of the situation will only make remediation more difficult and costly. There are people and parties on island that can be easily held responsible for the wrecks, infighting over who is to blame will not solve the situation. A clear consensus on finding a solution devoid of unnecessary jurisdictional impediments is what is going to get this matter cleared up. After the mess is cleared up, legal and regulatory improvements can be made to spare the island from further incidents that result in abandoned wrecks. As the island sits now, with a whole bunch of wrecks lying about...the attitude of "whats another wreck" will prevail and the situation will only grow worse. 
  • edited July 2015
    Hotshark, great proposal you are getting into.  Easy stop Chinese fishing in FSM EEZ, they are so arrogant. If the embassy is not helpful to locate its own citizen to clean up the mess then the future is clear.  Fish in your rivers Chinese.  Hotshark we support your efforts.  
  • Lesson learned: Ensure Insurance of ships coming into FSM are legally binded.
  • So who is going to fund your cleaning up plan, the state or the national gov.? And how many shipwrecks in the entire FSM area?
  • Mosquito....There are about 50 wrecks that we are aware of in both Chuuk and Pohnpei. We would hope that the FSM government in cooperation with state governments would seek aid from the E.U., China, the U.S. and probably Japan. Our company has removed over 70 wrecks from the shores of Africa under a program with the E.U. That being said we cannot ask for the funding...your government has to do that, and in order to do that, they have to be incentivized to do it. That is where citizens have to make sure that they let their representatives know that it is important to clean up the environment of those wrecks. As it is now...they just build up...when you have a whole bunch, who cares...what's another wreck. That is not a sustainable means of taking care of your beautiful islands and the oceans that surround them.
  • I am sorry for asking too many questions, but after extracting the ship wrecks from the corals, where are you planning to dump these ship wrecks and their oil and stuff at? I mean is there anyway to incinerate these junkie metals and chemicals instead of dumping them back to the ocean?
  • edited July 2015
    Thank you hotshark for taking time to share your thoughts and concerns on micsem. The Ping Da #7 is a sitting time bomb for our environment, especially for our reefs and marine wildlife. I am extremely disappointed by our joint leadership (fsm and state) in their slow effort to resolving this problem.  For the State of Pohnpei, the burden is on this administration to prove that it can lead by finding the solution. It has been two years since the wreck and as far as I am aware, no one is talking about it. If this Administration is unwilling to find solution to this problem, let's get rid of it in November and bring in a new Governor who will prioritize this problem and solve it. 
  • Nahnihd....We have  talked to the incumbent (acting) governor. He is has been informed of the situation and our concerns and offer. He has been given a pretty good issue to campaign on, and a potentially great feather in his cap if he can instigate some action. We have also talked to one of your Congressmen who is quite interested in the issue. These guys are both politicians and both tasked with the responsibilty to respond to their constituents. These guys will respond if they get the support they need from their constituency. They need to know that it is important that these messes be cleaned up...only the people of Pohnpei can do that. We believe that a solution already is a question of the will to address the issue. The idea that something sitting on the reef like the PING DA # 7, or that 36 wrecks lying in the harbor poisoning the environment is an acceptable status quo defies common sense, it is heartbreaking and morally indefensible. There is, in the hearts of good people on Pohnpei and the rest of the world, the will and capacity to take care of this problem, it will take time and a lot of effort and love for your island. Bring this subject up with your family and friends and community....good things will happen. 
  • Old rusting ship hulls is one problem, the other is an almost uncontrollable dredging going on right now, not to mention the many "mini land fills" right on the mangrove. There has to be some regulation to put an end to these "man-made" problems. Pohnpei is such a great place and should be kept that way, for the residents and the occasional visitors to the State. I lived in Pohnpei from 1980 t0 1986 - what a change.
  • Some of the wrecks lie up against some cause ways obviously created to make some kind of access for berthing vessels and barges. They may make removing some of the wrecks easier. The unregulated dredging devoid of environmental impact studies is another matter best addressed on another thread
  • edited July 2015
    Hotshark, I agree with you.  It will look so clean if they remove the wrecks and create a sea side park and swimming space. I wish I had the money to contract you. Keep knocking you'll never know who will give you a hand.
  • One simple solution to part of the danger that lies with the PING DA # 7 would be to at the very least put some signs near where the ladder is that goes up on to the ship. Warn people not to go on the ship, inform them that theyare in violation of police orders if they are caught. At least in so doing the government would not be held liable for the deaths or injuries of any folks that go aboard. A fall, or exposure to poisonous gas so far from shore and with little or no communications to call for rescue would be a terrible thing. It is not a matter of if that vessel kills someone, it is a matter of when. It is not a matter of if the other wrecks are polluting the environment, it is a matter of how much more is going to be allowed. There are all kinds of problems that have to be addressed, some can wait, some will get better with time, some problems are with people and only temporary, problems involving hundreds of tons of synthetic resins, sythetic foam, heavy metals and pressurized gases do not just disappear. It takes active leadership to deal with them. 
  • Vessel Grounded On Pohnpei Reef Called ‘Environmental Time Bomb’
    Owner of Ping Da 7, insurance company, walk away from giant reefer ship

    By Bill Jaynes

    POHNPEI, Federated States of Micronesia (Kaselehlie Press, July 14, 2015) – Two experts on marine salvage who visited Pohnpei two weeks ago claim that the Ping Da 7, the massive reefer ship that has been stuck hard aground on Pohnpei's reef for over a year and a half is an environmental time bomb waiting to go off.

    Who is responsible for the wreck now is by all accounts uncertain.

    The Chinese businessman who owned the Ping Da 7 essentially walked away from the vessel after it slammed into Pohnpei's northern reef in December of 2013. By all reports he declared financial insolvency. The insurance company that covered the vessel walked away as well.

    On the government level, the problem of the vessel and whose responsibility it would be to remove it is confused for a variety of reasons. On one hand, it is sitting on Pohnpei's reef which could be interpreted to mean that the problem is one for Pohnpei State government to handle. On the other hand, the owner of the vessel is a foreign national, or at least he was until the FSM Department of TC&I was appointed as receiver for the vessel. Neither the fact that it is in the purview of the National Government nor the fact that TC&I was appointed as receiver combine to clearly point to the FSM National Government as the responsible entity.

    An employee at TC&I said this afternoon that a task force was formed in order to deal with the situation but that he hadn't heard any conclusions "until now".

    Meanwhile there simply is no money to deal with the environmental time bomb that is the Ping Da 7. And the clock is ticking. Incremental damage is being done to the reef and to the lagoon every moment that the huge ship sits on the reef.

    Jaco Sluijimers of Mammoet Salvage, perhaps the world's largest and most expert marine salvage companies, and Captain Will Naden of Cabras Island Marine Services came to Pohnpei last year with an eye toward developing a salvage plan and presenting it to the FSM Government. They said that at that time the Ping Da 7 had been ransacked, that fuel and lube oil had been removed by a contractor, though not all of it. They found buckets and barrels of various oils lying around in the engine room and in barrels and some half emptied "day tanks". They found an ammonia room that had a large tank holding tons of pressurized liquid ammonia. At that time they found little material on the reef.

    When they returned on June 27 this year they found junk thrown from the decks of the ship on to the reef including five gallon containers of paint that had spilled and "painted" the reef. They found considerably more corrosion to the fittings and tanks aboard the ship. Barrels were leaking on deck and the oil in them was leaking into the ocean. They found water tight hatches and doors that were rusted open. They still found the same oils and other pollutants they had found the first time they went aboard.

    Naden and Sluijmers did a thorough evaluation of the hazards and the possibility for removing the ship from the reef. Their visit was unsolicited but they hoped to be able to provide to the relevant Governments, enough information so that those governments could use it in order to attract funding to get the job done. They want the job and they have the resources to do it.

    Mammoet Salvage has over 5000 employees and 80 offices worldwide. They specialize in heavy lift engineering and performed vessel salvages all over the world including in Guam. Cabras Island Marine Services based in Guam has worked with Jaco Sluijmers of Mammoet on at least two large salvage operations in Guam. The FSM has called upon Captain Naden for his services as a marine consultant and surveyor several times.

    The two said that scrapping the vessel in situ is not a viable alternative but that the hull appears to be sufficiently intact to remove the vessel from the reef in a manner that would not create severe environmental damage. Though there certainly is a salvage value for the metals in the massive vessel the cost to tow the vessel to a port where it could be recycled would be enormously expensive. Any money earned from recycling would likely be less than just the cost to tow the vessel and wouldn't even touch the cost of completely cleaning it to international standards and removing it from the reef. That operation will require large machinery and will be a feat of engineering marvel for which Mamoet is famous.

    The best solution would be to remove all environmentally hazardous materials, thoroughly strip and clean the vessel to international environmental standards, remove it from the reef and sink it in deep water.

    In addition to meeting with many government officials, while the two were on island they performed GPS positioning of 36 other wrecks in Pohnpei's lagoon. They said that since it would be necessary to bring equipment to the island if they get the contract to remove the Ping Da 7 that same equipment could be used to remove those 37 other wrecks which are also polluting Pohnpei's lagoon.

    They said that the fiberglass wrecks are also an environmental hazard as they contain toxic lead, heavy metals, foam, and plastics that are breaking down and going into the food chain.

    They said that they are hoping to get the interest of the local population in order to try to convince Pohnpei State to maintain the State of Emergency and to do what they can to convince the national government to seek aid.

    In a posting on Micronesia Forum they wrote, "With the Ping Da 7 and 36 other wrecks sitting on your reefs and in the mangroves, Pohnpei has a compelling case to seek remediation and help. We can assist with securing funding only after a request is made."

    The Kaselehlie Press
    Copyright © 2015 The Kaselehlie Press. All Rights Reserved

  • "We don't know what to do." 

    "Can you come do it for us? How much would you do that for? Can you help fund the removal of these pollutants from our waters before they turn into environmental disaster for our reefs and shores, if they have not already?This is how the silence sound.

  • Maybe the politicians are waiting for an answer from heaven. Like the joke, an old man got trapped on his rooftop during a flood, and in fevered and heartfelt sorrow he prayed for deliverance...
  • WHERE ARE THE EPA SINCE 5 YEARS AGO??? Did one of them see this coming?? Come guys, are we that smart and make ourself look stupid. Wait, let me guess??? Hmmmm!!!! No budget, Well, if anyone work with this in the beginning and it won't be like this now. HEY GUYS, Don't blame the budget, blame yourself for not doing your work.
  • It will not be long before the weather changes from the monsoon season to the trade wind season and high waves will be slamming the Ping Da # 7. Thirty five  other wrecks silently kill your mangroves, fish and corals.   As people sit on shore and pretend that there is no problem, metals corrode, the ocean exerts her power, plastics, heavy metals sluff in to the environment and the eyesores persist as wrecks degrade into a deadly stew that no one wants to believe exists. This disaster brews in a sea of greed, fear, and apathy. Where is your "love" for your island, the land. the sea? Why is this not a priority? A solution exists...and no one seems willing or able to seek it out.
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