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.