Removing Shipwrecks, Restoring Coral Reefs 

Three shipwrecks are removed from Palmyra Atoll and Kingman Reef without harming the marine ecosystem.

The project T-shirt for a USFWS-led effort to remove three shipwrecks at the Palmyra Atoll and Kingman Reef National Wildlife Refuges, 1,000 miles south of Hawai’i.

The Hui Feng No. 1, a 121-foot Taiwanese trawler that grounded on the reef at Palmyra in 1991, was the source of the greatest damage.

The teak wood bow was all that remained of an unknown shipping vessel that ground on Kingman Reef in 2007.

The third shipwrecked vessel, a pontoon barge called ‘Rust Island,’ was used during World War II to dredge the shipping channel into Palmyra’s lagoons.

An underwater view of the Hui Feng lying on its side. The Taiwanese long-line fishing vessel weighed 618,350 pounds.

Iron leaching from Hui Feng fueled the growth of invasive corallimorph, which carpeted 740 acres of coral reef surrounding the vessel.

Heavy storm surf was one of the biggest challenges to removing the shipwreck on Kingman Reef.

Nearly a millions pounds of rusted iron and other debris were removed at Palmyra Atoll and Kingman Reef.

Before ‘Rust Island’ could be removed from Palmyra’s reefs, the clean-up crew had to clear all the vegetation growing on it.

The ‘Rust Island’ shipwreck disintegrated into small shale-like pieces. To remove it, crew members shoveled 277,800 pounds of debris into buckets and totes.

A 150-foot high crane lifted shipwreck debris onto a large barge that carried it back to the U.S. West Coast.


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