Maritime New Zealand announces that the good progress was made on Rena this week, despite salvage operations being suspended for two days due to high winds and swells. The project remains on schedule.
The total combined weight of steel removed is now approximately 430 tonnes, which is more than 20 per cent of the total weight to be removed.
The RMG 280 crane barge is expected to arrive in port this evening (Friday, 14 September).
With the arrival of the barge and a specialised team of divers from the United States, underwater salvage operations are expected to commence next week.
The crane barge – which will operate from deeper water at the aft end of the bow section – can raise significantly larger pieces of steel (up to 40 tonnes) than the helicopters.
The above water and underwater operations will run simultaneously.
Braemar Howells/Unimar Update
The Braemar/Unimar teams’ new vessel Tasman Challenger, bought in to help with the removal of debris from the surrounding seabed as the Rena’s bow section is cut away, has this week made a strong start.
The 26m vessel has been specially fitted out for the role. Divers are sent down to hook lines to larger pieces of scrap which are lifted aboard by crane, and also fill baskets (which can hold over one tonne), with smaller items.
Operations Manager Mike Richards says that more than 20 tonnes of container scrap, scrap steel, coils of wire and other material has been successfully recovered in little more than a day. “The teams have done an excellent job which is continuing at a steady pace today, while the weather conditions remain favourable.
“The Rena owners and insurers are pleased to receive these reports,” he says.
Mike Richards says that it took some time before the Tasman Challenger teams could begin their work as a special ‘remote mooring’ had to be put in place. This mooring system allows the vessel to tie up to buoys instead of putting an anchor down.
The mooring system means the Challenger can be quickly moved as necessary to accommodate the helicopter operations being carried out by the salvors, Resolve Salvage and Fire, who are continuing to cut down the bow section of the Rena.
On shore, beach cleanup work resumed on the Coromandel Peninsula early this week, after it had been halted by last weekend’s stormy weather.
Mr Richards says that surveys of Coromandel beaches have been completed and the survey team has continued south, down through the Bay of Plenty towards Gisborne.
The total number of containers recovered has risen to 996.
Oil spill response
Bay of Plenty Regional Council continues to oversee the Rena oil spill response.
People are encouraged to report any sightings of oil to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council Pollution Prevention Hotline on 0800 884 883.
The Regional Council also continues to work with wreck removal and debris recovery contractors to ensure the risk of further oil spills is managed. Resolve Salvage and Fire has an oil spill contingency plan in place and have response equipment and trained staff at the wreck site. Braemar Howells has oil spill response equipment on their vessel patrolling the 2 mile exclusion zone.
Press Release, September 14, 2012