The US military personnel who left Angaur last week said that they need a bigger team to move the Asia Perdana, an abandoned barge which is beached on Angaur’s coast.

A 6-person United States Army team was brought in to Palau last month to conduct removal assessments for the barge, followed by a 30-person team as part of the Defender Pacific 20 Exercise, which left on September 8. The teams determined that they would need a bigger crew and bigger vessels to safely pull the barge out.

Angaur State Governor KennosukeSuzuky said that he’s submitting a letter to the Ministry of State requesting a bigger team to be brought into Palau.

The current plan, he said, is either to salvage the metal or to float the vessel outside the reef and sink it as part of an artificial reef.

“Considering that the military has bigger assets, this is the avenue we’re trying to use,” said Governor Suzuky.

The rusted barge, which first drifted through the reef in August 2019, is believed to have been carried from Indonesia by a storm. It became grounded on Angaur’sreef, and is currently sitting bottom-up on the island’s southern beach.

Currents have caused the giant vessel to drift up and down the island’s southwest coast, causing damage to the reef. Governor Suzuky pointed out that the barge cannot be contained, and that a big enough wave could even cause it to block the entrance to Angaur’s Harbor.

As an alternative to military aid, Governor Suzuky pointed out that there are numerous private companies, such as a Korean company which salvages scrap-metal in Palau, interested in helping to remove the vessel. But he said that he wants to go through the “proper” channels recommended by the national government before turning to alternatives, especially with the liability of a barge which is “unharnessed, and can drift any time”.  

“If [the military aid] fails, I’ll entertain the scrap-metal company here as a solution,” said the Governor.

“Everyone is anxious to remove the barge,” he added. “But this sort of thing doesn’t just happen overnight. It goes through the channels.” 

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