When a ship runs aground, there can be impacts to reefs, beaches, and seagrass beds. These environments are often critical to the economies and cultures of the surrounding coastal communities. Groundings can also lead to oil spills or releases of hazardous chemicals.
Ships of all sizes sometimes run aground in our nation's waters, despite improved navigation aids such as satellite-based navigation and precise nautical charts. Such groundings commonly result from storms, mechanical failure, and human error. Groundings that occur in coral reef and seagrass habitats can be particularly damaging.
How do we respond and restore?
NOAA works with the U.S. Coast Guard and vessel salvage companies to identify the best way to remove a vessel, while minimizing additional impacts. When ships run aground on coral reefs, emergency actions can be taken to salvage broken corals and quickly stabilize reef structures.