Salvaging an Assult Vehicle


    By Ron Mizutani

    A diving and salvage unit from Marine Corps Base Hawaii returned to Bellows Wednesday to recover an Assault Amphibian Vehicle that sank Monday night. But is there more to the story than what’s being shared by the military?   

    Sources told KHON2 diesel fuel leaked from the A-A-V but those in charge of the salvage project say that’s not true.

    As divers prepped salvage equipment at Bellows, beach goers watched with interest and questions.

    “There’s an offshore reef which is about probably 300 yards out and I always wondered whether there was a puka that they came through that was set aside for them to come through or whether they were just hoping that they wouldn’t hit it when they came in,” said Tom Holowach of Kailua.

    Monday night, marines did the latter. The incident happened about 6:30 during water operations — similar to these exercises in 2002. According to military officials, a wave hit the AAV about 12-hundred yards offshore causing it to strike the reef. The vehicle started taking on water and lost power while attempting to reach the shoreline. It sank less than 175 yards from shore. All three marines escaped injury.

    “So they pulled another vehicle along side it, moved all the personnel and gear to the other vehicle and attempted to hook up to tow but the vehicle was under water,” said Commander Christopher Kim of Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

    “No fuel is emitting from the vehicle and we have been diving on it through out yesterday and today and continue to monitor and she’s pretty much intact,” said Gordon Olayvar of the Federal Conservation Law Enforcement.

    But sources close to the investigation say an unknown amount of diesel leaked from the vehicle. Environmental watchdog Carroll Cox received a similar tip.

    “I received a call saying there is diesel fuel being emitted — didn’t tell me the volume of the quantity,” said Cox.

    “Obviously one of the things of concern for us is fuel making sure that the fuel is contained,” said Olayvar.

    Cox says residents should not be satisfied.

    “No we should not be,” said Cox. “The concern I have is a boom is placed here and if you look at it the way its configured — that’s not going to serve any purpose — it should be completed contained. I don’t believe that the military has been as transparent in this situation as they should be.”

    Crews expect to recover the A-A-V Wednesday night. The state will then determine if there’s been any reef impact.



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