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Press Release | Sept. 16, 2023

Western Maui Wildfire Emergency Support Function #10 Unified Command transitions to next phase in response

HONOLULU — State and federal responders with the Western Maui Wildfire Emergency Support Function #10 (ESF #10) Unified Command, comprised of the U.S. Coast Guard, Hawaii Department of Health, and the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, are entering the next phase of operations, termed Phase 1: Hazard Mitigation and Consultation, to restore Lahaina Harbor and surrounding waterways following the Aug. 8 wildfire. 

The Western Maui Wildfire ESF #10 Unified Command has selected Global Diving & Salvage as the primary contractor for the removal operations in Lahaina Harbor. The contract workers will assess the harbor and develop a plan, to be reviewed and approved by the U.S. Coast Guard, to remove hazardous materials and submerged vessels. Once that step is complete, the contractor will remove identified hazardous materials, fuels, and oil in preparation for removal of submerged vessels out of the harbor, with U.S. Coast Guard oversight.   

The U.S. Coast Guard and contract workers staged light equipment in Lahaina Harbor today with the removal of hazardous material expected to begin later in the month once cultural and archeological monitors are in place.  

The general order for vessel pollution mitigation and removal operations will be executed in a phased approach as described below. Due to the uncertain nature of removal operations, some phases may occur concurrently. Specific timelines cannot be generated at this time due to the dynamic nature of the response. 

Phase 0 - Pre-Operations: This initial phase of operations has consisted of the search for sunken, derelict, or displaced vessels, along with associated marine debris. The Unified Command has been working to identify and contact vessel owners to gather information about each vessel.   

Phase 1 - Hazard Mitigation and Consultation: This phase includes equipment staging, area assessments for safety and pollution concerns, and consultation with local, state, and federal partners to create and formalize operational plans for the next phase. Cultural and archeological monitors will be in place to ensure operations are conducted respectfully. Monitors will continue to advise on cultural and archeological areas throughout all phases of the operation. 

Phase 2 - Right of Entry and Removal Operations: This is the physical recovery phase. Operations will include pollution mitigation and recovery, and removal of vessels and debris from the water to pre-designated staging areas. The Unified Command will closely coordinate with local authorities to facilitate access to impacted vessels for owners, operators, assessors, and other stakeholders.

Phase 3 - Closeout: The final phase of vessel pollution mitigation and removal operations. The Unified Command, with the concurrence of local, state, and federal partners, will determine that the mission assignment has been completed. 

The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act of 1988 authorized and funded this Mission Assignment for the U.S. Coast Guard that was agreed upon by the State and FEMA and delineates the work for vessel and debris removal operations. 

For media inquiries related to the Western Maui Wildfire ESF #10 response, please contact the ESF #10 Public Information Officer at (505) 433-8759, or email

The Unified Command has created a Harbor Coordination Group to communicate with owners and operators of impacted vessels. Vessel owners and operators can contact the Harbor Coordination Group at