Ship Grounding


Living and damaged coral, showing impact of the ship grounding.

$4.5M for Primary Restoration at T/V Margara Ship Grounding Site in Puerto Rico

In July 2019 NOAA received $4,403,590.98 from the National Pollution Funds Center to provide primary restoration for injuries to natural resources from the T/V Margara ship grounding in 2006. The oil tanker ran aground on a shallow coral reef close to Bahia de Talloboa in Puerto Rico, and was successfully removed a day later. 

Cleanup worker on beach with hands covered in oil. Image credit: Alaska Public Archives

Story Map: The Spills Behind the Oil Pollution Act

Thirty years ago on March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred. It was America's largest oil spill at the time, and is largely credited with the passage of the Oil Pollution Act.

But it was not the only big spill of 1989. Between June 23 and 24, three different oil tankers accidentally poured their cargo into U.S. coastal waters.

Pulverized corals cloud the water around grounded cargo ship VogeTrader

Public Comment Sought on Reef Restoration Plan

October 17, 2017 -- NOAA released a Draft Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan (DARP) for the M/V VogeTrader ship grounding. The comment period is open until November 15.

Case Pages:

A large coral split by the grounding, was part of the initial damage assessment compiled by NOAA. (Sea Ventures Inc. photo)

LNG Carrier Matthew

Ship Grounding | Guayanilla, Puerto Rico | December 2009

What Happened?

On December 15, 2009, the liquid natural gas carrier Matthew grounded on coral reef habitat off the south coast of Puerto Rico near Guayanilla. The vessel was eventually freed from the reef with the assistance of local tug boats.

Broken corals were draped on a floating coral array frame in order to grow bigger. Divers attached Acropora coral fragments, one of many coral types affected by the grounding.

T/V Port Stewart

Ship Grounding | Yabucoa, Puerto Rico | October 2009

What Happened?

On October 27, 2009, the T/V Port Stewart, a tank vessel carrying seven million gallons of oil, struck coral reef habitat off the southeast shore of Puerto Rico near the entrance to Yabucoa Channel. The vessel was eventually freed with the assistance of local tug boats. Extraction activities affected another section of reef approximately 600 feet to the south.

T/V Margara aground with tugs alongside.

T/V Margara

On April 27, 2006, the oil tanker T/V Margara ran aground on a shallow coral reef close to the Bahia de Tallaboa in Puerto Rico. The vessel was successfully removed from the site the following day without leaking oil into the water. However, response efforts and removal of the ship caused significant additional injury to the reef.

The M/V Jireh grounded on Mona Island. (USCG)

M/V Jireh

Ship Grounding | Puerto Rico | June 2012


Divers remove the thick layer of coral rubble from the seafloor using a vacuum hose attached to a boat.

M/V VogeTrader

Ship Grounding | Kalaeloa Harbor, Hawaii | February 2010

On February 5, 2010, the cargo vessel M/V Vogetrader ran aground near Barber’s Point as it was entering Kalaeloa Harbor. The grounding and associated response activities caused substantial injuries to coral reef habitat, harming more than 100,000 coral colonies.

The vessel M/V Cape Flattery aground at Barbers Point, Oahu, HI.

M/V Cape Flattery

The bulk carrier M/V Cape Flattery grounded in coral reef habitat off Barbers Point (Kalaeloa), Oahu on February 2, 2005. Actions to free the ship and prevent an oil spill lasted for nine days and caused widespread injury to coral reef habitats and reef biota.