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USCG Capt. Joanna Nunan of Honolulu honored for exceptional service to territory

Via a Senate Concurrent Resolution, the Legislature yesterday honored Capt. Joanna Nunan, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu commanding officer, for her “numerous and significant contributions” to American Samoa.


The resolution was presented as part of the 2013 Flag Day celebration, where Senate Secretary Leo’o Va’a Ma’o publicly read the resolution, which was then presented to Nunan, who was among the off-island VIPs. Her command post includes American Samoa.


Under Nunan’s supervision, the USCG Marine Safety Detachment (MSD) in American Samoa “set a national precedent" by initiating with the U.S. Justice Department filing of the first ever charges for environmental crimes in American Samoa, which represented the first criminal prosecution for intentionally disposing oil in United States waters, the resolution states.


Nunan kept the integrity of the USCG mission to protect U.S. waters by initiating the successful prosecutions of the  M/V Syota Maru, the M/V San Nikunau, and the M/V Southern Lily II for counts related to illegal dumping of oil in American Samoa waters, it says.


It further states that in June last year, fishing vessels Lili’aifao and Alice sank in the Pago Pago Harbor with an estimated 26,000 gallons of oily bilge either spilling or threatening to spill into the Harbor. MSD American Samoa, along with the U.S. Coast Guard’s Pacific Strike Team, assisted private contractor SOLAR Inc. to quickly contain and remove the oily bilge.


It says that Nunan and the USCG were able to access the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to finance these clean up operations.


Also, during recent severe weather conditions in American Samoa, Nunan successfully established an Incident Command Post and led storm preparations before Cyclone Wilma’s landfall. “This enabled the full resumption of maritime commerce within hours of the storm’s passage,” the resolution states. “Capt. Nunan further spearheaded the arrangement of an aerial damage assessment post-landfall of Swains Island, the results of which contributed to American Samoa’s damage report submitted to FEMA.”


During cyclones Gary and Evan, the resolution says, the local USCG unit worked closely with local officials for cyclone preparedness.


The resolution also states that Nunan exerted her efforts to update the American Samoa annex of the Hawaii and American Samoa Area Contingency Plan, in coordination with Federal and Territorial agencies. The plan is near completion and is something that has not been done in almost eight years.


“This comprehensive plan will detail specific response tactics for large scale oil spills and chemical releases along the coastal zone of American Samoa,” it says.


Other accomplishments under Nunan’s leadership include the establishment of a viable regional Area Maritime Security (AMS) subcommittee in American Samoa. The AMS examines the  unique aspects of the territorial Marine Transportation System (MTS).


Capt. Nunan’s leadership also promoted community service, with the creation of the first Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla to promote boating and water safety to the public and assist in pollution response and post-storm assessment, the resolution states.


“Of particular note, she assisted Hawai’i based Rotarians by collecting, shipping, sorting, and distributing over 7,000 books — 44,000 pounds of donated books — for delivery to American Samoa’s classrooms, which represented the largest literacy/book donation in the history of Rotary Club International,” it says.