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small noaa logo Home | Pollutants in the Environment | Abandoned Vessels

Abandoned Vessel Program Overview

the hulk of a ship on a beautiful beach


Abandoned vessels pose a significant threat to the NOAA Trust resources through physical destruction of coral habitats and dispersion of toxic chemicals and gear. The Damage Assessment Center (DAC) is addressing this issue by creating a comprehensive database of abandoned vessels  that could potentially threaten coral ecosystems in U.S. waters. Current databases are limited in their scope or definition of abandoned vessels.


The inventory is a compilation of existing data from sources such as NOAA, the U.S. Coast Guard, States, Territories and the maritime industry, as well as original data from maps and personal interviews with local sources.

Current Status

Development on the database began in August, 2001. The table to the right shows the number of vessels in the inventory by region. Ranges in the vessel counts represent uncertainty in much of the existing data. As development of the Abandoned Vessel Inventory (AVI) continues, the ranges will decrease according to local confirmation or denial of vessels whose presence is questionable.

Abandoned Vessels Count Chart


The AVI is being used to identify candidate wrecks for further attention and to initiate removal of the highest priority cases. The database will also assist resource managers in understanding the extent and nature of the threats posed by abandoned vessels.

Parallel to the development of the AVI, DAC is also undertaking a review of the existing authorities that allow for removal of abandoned vessels. The legal review and inventory together will form the basis of a coordinated strategy to address the array of threats posed by these vessels.

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