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Kawaihae Harbor

The ports serving the State of Hawaii include Hilo Harbor and Kawaihae Harbor on the island of Hawaii. Kawaihae Harbor, on the northwest coast of Hawaii, was a small port of historical significance until 1957 when the Corps began construction of a deep-draft harbor. The initial project concluded with completion of the main breakwater in 1959. The Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA) is about midway between Hilo, on the east coast and the Army landing site at Kawaihae Harbor. In preparation for large scale training exercises at PTA, the ground forces are flown to Hilo and transported over Saddle Road. Supporting equipment and vehicles are transported from Oahu by ship or barge to Kawaihae and driven to the site.

Kawaihae, 35 miles north of Kailua - Kona, has been used since 1937 various shipping purposes, first as a berthing for interisland steamers, and then by ships after 1959 when it was developed into a deep - draft harbor.

While the military cargo ramp at Kawaihae Harbor, Island of Hawaii, underwent repairs in early 2001, the Logistics Support Vessels assigned to the 45th Corps Support Group (Forward) had to find an alternate off load site. The only viable option turned out to be the state piers, which are located across from the military ramp within Kawaihae Harbor. Shaping that decision was the fact that the LSV can lay her ramp on the pier to discharge cargo, and consequently take up less pier space.

As the state piers are used primarily by civilian tugs and barges, the Army LSVs could not interfere with cargo operations, nor impede entry or departure from the harbor. It became apparent that trying to maintain a consistent sailing schedule for division deployments to the Big Island would present a challenge, until an offer of help arrived from the civilian sector. Henry Pasco, Harbormaster, Kawaihae Harbor, contacted 45th CSG(F) staff to offer his assistance to facilitate the LSV scheduling for state pier usage, so as not to interfere with civilian cargo operations. For three months during early 2001, since the military ramp was been out of commission, 25th Infantry Division (Light ) units were busy deploying their equipment on the LSVs to Kawaihae Harbor for movement to Pohakuloa Training Area.

With Pasco's involvement in the state pier scheduling process, the LSVs, and ultimately the Division customer units, held delays held to an absolute minimum. Supplied with the LSVs inter-island sailing schedule, the average time for an LSV to upload or download, Pasco created "windows of opportunity" for the LSVs to use one state pier while the other pier was being used for civilian cargo operations, and in this way the LSVs could keep to their critical time schedule.

As deployments by division units to the Big Island began to slow down in April 2001, the 45th CSG(F) LSVs picked up the pace with three 10 day trips to Johnston Atoll in support of Operation Deep Blue - a two week exercise with Army divers, and in May 2001, LSV-5 deployed for nearly two months to participate in TURBOCADS,01, a Combined Joint Logistics-over-the- Shore (C-JLOTS) exercise being conducted on the east coast of Korea.

There are two deep draft harbors on the island, one at Hilo and another at Kawaihae. While improvements continue to be made, both harbor terminals lack adequate docking and support facilities. Water pollution is a continuing problem in the vicinity of the harbors. It is anticipated that the use of both deep [water] draft harbors will expand substantially. As population grows, resort areas develop in West Hawaii and cargo is re-routed from Hilo, Kawaihae Harbor is especially expected to experience a dramatic increase in its use. Cargo volume at Kawaihae Harbor has increased significantly as the population and development in West Hawaii continues to grow. The Hawaii Commercial Harbors 2020 Master Plan was developed by the State in 1998 to guide the development, maintenance and enhancement of the island's harbor systems to ensure its efficient, safe, accessible and economical operations.

There is a deep water draft port and small boat harbor at Kawaihae, both of which are being further developed. Kawaihae Harbor has two commercial piers with approximately 14 acres of cargo handling and storage areas, with room for expansion as needed. Although a new perimeter breakwater was constructed at the southern end of the harbor by the Army Corps of Engineers, there[There] is insufficient parallel docking space at the present facility. The State Department of Transportation has plans to increase small boat capacity when funding can be appropriated[by developing a small boat harbor outside the coral stockpile area where a portion of a breakwater has been constructed]. The Hawaii Commercial Harbors 2020 Master Plan identifies the need for additional cargo yard space to accommodate interisland and overseas cargo as well as the construction of a passenger terminal at Pier 4.

In the late 1990s the U.S. Army Engineer District, Honolulu, completed construction of a harbor for light-draft vessels at Kawaihae, in the South Kohala District of the island of Hawaii. The entrance channel and turning basin were dredged in 1969 and 1970 during Operation Tugboat. Completing the harbor required extension of the existing breakwater and construction of a new mole and breakwater. No additional dredging was required. However, the construction covered about 1.8 hectacres (4.5 acres) of natural habitat, some of which is occupied by corals and associated organisms. The Army Corps of Engineers recommended that a coral transplantation and monitoring plan be developed as one of the measures designed to mitigate adverse impacts of harbor construction.

The existing small boat anchorage is bounded by revetted landfill to the north, the existing breakwater to the west, a relatively healthy coral reef to the south, and a relatively eroded reef platform to the east. The turning basin apparently functions as a sediment sink, and is characterized by low-relief sand flat, low wave energy, and sparse coral coverage dominated by delicate corals (Pocillopora damicornis and finely branching Montipora verrucosa). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that reef fish diversity in the basin is high (64 species) but abundance is low.

The coral reef to the south is characterized by a well-developed coral community with considerable topographic relief on the reef flat and a spur and groove system on the seaward edge of the reef. The southern reef supports the most diverse and well-developed coral community in the project site, with at least 11 species of coral. Porites compressa is the dominant coral species, followed by Porites lobata. Other species include Pavona varians, Leptastraea purpurea, Fungia scutaria, and Pocillopora meandrina. The southern reefs supports an abundant and diverse reef-fish community, with at least 68 species. The reef to the east of the project site consists of a low-relief limestone pavement dissected by numerous surge channels and sand pockets. Coral coverage is low but reef-fish density is high, with at least 50 species present. The reef is pitted from numerous boring sea urchins, Echinometra mathei. Heterocentrotus mammillatus is also abundant. Blasting to create the entrance channel pulverized part of the reef framework into rubble that supports a depauperate reef-fish community (only 3 species recorded) and a low diversity of corals. Porites lobata is the most common coral species in this area; Porites compressa and Posilloporo meandrina are also found.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:51:28 ZULU