The Taiwanese-flagged vessel reportedly caught fire on 4 November 2017, prompting the crew to abandon ship into a life raft and were rescued by the crew of a Korean-flagged vessel, transferred to a sister fishing vessel and eventually disembarked in Fiji. The master and one crewmember reportedly remain missing. The Chu Zai Fa No. 1 remained adrift until its grounding Monday.
The vessel has the capacity to carry 30,000 gallons of diesel fuel and there may be approximately 13,000 gallons aboard the vessel. Some of the fuel may have burned off in the fire.
Coast Guard responders arrived from Honolulu Wednesday afternoon via an HC-130 Hercules airplane from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point. Additional support from the Coast Guard Pacific Strike Team based in Novato, California are arriving to the island aboard a commercial flight Friday. The feasibility of pollution response and salvage plans are being discussed.
Personnel from the Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment in American Samoa, aboard a police vessel, assessed the Chu Zai Fa No. 1 following an initial report of its grounding.
"The responsible party has been actively involved in addressing the matter, and has already provided significant financial resources to ensure all of the proper steps are taken in mitigating this issue," said the USCG in a statement.
Weather in the area is expected to deteriorate in the coming days as a monsoon trough generates wet and windy conditions across the islands through the rest of the week. Efforts are being considered to anchor the vessel in place to prevent it from shifting or damaging the coral reefs in the area.