Grounded Navy ship freed from reef off Okinawa

The USNS Sgt. Matej Kocak ran aground on a reef off the coast of Okinawa, Japan, on Jan. 22, 2015.


By STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 3, 2015

A Military Sealift Command ship is again transiting the seas after the U.S. Navy on Tuesday was able to remove the vessel from a reef six miles off the coast of Okinawa.

The USNS Sgt. Matej Kocak was carrying 131 civilians and U.S. servicemembers when it ran aground on Jan. 22.

For the past two weeks, personnel have been trying various ways to refloat the vessel. Workers offloaded the ship’s fuel on Monday, which lightened it enough for it to break free from the reef during a high-tide cycle, the Navy said in a news release.

After the operation, the ship was able to transit under its own power to Naval Fleet Activities White Beach in Okinawa, the Navy said.

“Safely refloating the vessel required the right sea state, the right tide and the right weather conditions to lessen any risks to personnel, the ship and the environment,” the release said.

Japan and Navy officials are now assessing the potential damage to the reef.

The cause of the incident remains under investigation.


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