CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands — The Friday deadline is rapidly approaching for vessel owners to declare their intent for hurricane-displaced vessels, and with more than 220 vessels without declared owner intention, U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources and the Coast Guard are seeking the assistance of the boating public to get the word out.
“To date we have received owner intent for less than half of the more than 440 vessels affected by hurricane impacts to the islands,” said Coast Guard Cmdr. David Reinhard, incident commander, U.S. Virgin Islands Emergency Support Function 10 vessel salvage operations. “Our mission here is to minimize any threat to the maritime environment, however, we want to return property to interested vessel owners if possible.”
DPNR established December 1, 2017, as the deadline for vessel owners to declare their intent for their property. As the deadline passes all vessels without identified owners will be declared abandoned. The abandoned vessels will be removed under DPNR authorization.
Salvaged vessels will be cleaned of all potential pollutants and then transferred to DPNR. DPNR then oversees the further disposition of the vessels.
To date, more than 100 vessels have been salvaged through owner insurance, direct owner salvage or under ESF-10 operations. ESF-10 operations are being conducted to address more than 440 hurricane-displaced, damaged, sunken and aground vessels.
Vessel owners are strongly encouraged to contact DPNR prior to Friday, December 1, to declare their intentions. If owners do not have insurance or a way to salvage their vessel, they can request special consideration for federal assistance, or waive their rights to their vessels. Owners do not need to salvage their vessels by Friday; however, they must communicate their intent by that deadline.