U.S.-flag merchant fleet delivering relief cargoes for communities devastated by wildfires in Hawaii

In a situation report released August 14, the American Maritime Partnership reported state, local and federal authorities in Hawaii continue to respond to the needs of residents and the devastating impacts of several large wildfires, which have taken more the 100 lives and destroyed more than 2,200 homes and businesses.

In what has been described as the deadliest wildfire incident in the U.S. in more than 100 years, the fires were exacerbated by extremely dry conditions and strong winds generated by the passage of Hurricane Dora.

As of Monday morning, August 14, all 10 ports within Hawaii’s Commercial Harbor System, including Kahului Harbor Piers 1, 2 and 3 on the island of Maui, remained operational.

  • Fuel availability, the movement of cargo and the flow of humanitarian assistance have not been restricted by the impacts of the wildfires.
  • Cargoes from the mainland U.S. to Maui are generally routed through Honolulu and transshipped to Kahului, Maui (the main harbor), but there is there is also direct U.S. barge service and roll-on/roll-off vessel service from the mainland to Kahului.
  • The American maritime industry is coordinating with county, state, federal, and emergency departments to prioritize and move cargo, and ensure safe and expedient delivery of disaster aid.
  • U.S.-flagged barges are arriving at Kahului Harbor in Maui to provide relief goods.
  • A barge with 20 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) containers arrived on Thursday, August 10, carrying pallets of bottled water and ready-to-eat meals.
  • Another barge arrived on Saturday, August 12, carrying 191 containers with generators, emergency supplies, and other equipment to assist the community response efforts.
  • One U.S.-flag operator has added a barge service due to arrive on Sunday, August 20, in addition to their regular service schedule.
  • One domestic operator provides direct service to Maui using a self-propelled U.S.-flag roll-on/roll-off vessel, and is prioritizing emergency rations, foodstuffs, and medical supplies.
  • The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) has subsequently waived all wharfage charges for cargoes inbound to Kahului Harbor through September 10, 2023 to support humanitarian relief in Maui.
  • HDOT will waive demurrage and storage fees and port entry and dockage for vessels displaced from small boat harbors on Maui, and have determined that the declared state of emergency is determined to be good cause for extensions of free time.
  • The National Guard has activated 134 troops, including 99 Army National Guard personnel and 35 Air National Guard personnel, to assist in the in the ongoing local and federal wildfire response efforts.
  • FEMA announced Saturday it had deployed more than 150 personnel, including search and rescue teams.

The American Maritime Partnership is a coalition of which American Maritime Officers Service is a member and which American Maritime Officers supports.