The Virgin Islands National Park dock and access road at Red Hook on St. Thomas will be closed to the public for approximately six months beginning Jan. 13, according to a press release from the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR), which has requested use of the National Park Service (NPS) facility as a site for the processing of unsalvageable vessels taken from the waters of the USVI.
This project will involve the use of heavy equipment and cranes, and generate hazardous conditions and significant traffic at the facility, making the area unsafe for visitors, which necessitates the closure of the area to vehicular and foot traffic.
Following hurricanes Irma and Maria, hundreds of vessels were either washed aground or sunk in waters surrounding the Virgin Islands, and many are beyond repair. Left in place, these vessels create a hazard to boaters and swimmers, can leak fuel and sewage, and can damage reefs, mangroves and shorelines.
The DPNR has taken the lead in removing these vessels from waters around the islands. “I am pleased that Virgin Islands National Park is able to support the DPNR in its efforts to remove vessels from territorial waters,” said acting Superintendent Darrell Echols.
“We recognize that closing the park’s facility at Red Hook will impact visitors who use the area, but use of this facility is critical to the mission of removing vessels. We appreciate people’s understanding as we work together to remove hazards from the waters surrounding our islands,” Echols said.
The U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Army Corp of Engineers will work cooperatively with the DPNR to deliver vessels to the dock where they will be off loaded, staged and reduced before being transported off-site.
Direct any questions regarding the removal of vessels from territorial waters to the U.S. Coast Guard ESF-10 Incident Command Post to 423-6353 or USVIDPNR@gmail.com.
For questions regarding the closure at Red Hook, contact Acting Superintendent Darrell Echols at 776-6201, ext. 248 or Darrell_Echols@nps.gov.