High winds and swell out at the reef this week have caused some disruption to salvage activities, with Smit Borneo forced to remain on standby yesterday. Changes in the conditions this morning are expected to allow Smit Borneo to move closer to the wreck today.
As a result of heavy swells flooding the breached holds in the bow section, some bags of milk powder were discharged into the sea yesterday. Small craft assisting the salvors recovered many of the bags, although some burst and their contents lost to the sea.
Despite the bad weather over the past 24 hours, the salvage joint venture between Svitzer and Smit has made good progress on recovering cargo and containers from the wreck this week – more than 50 containers, and a significant amount of aluminium ingots and other pieces of debris and cargo have been removed.
Work on removing hatch covers from the bow section of the wreck has been completed. Salvors have this week also focused on cutting and removing sections of the wreck structure itself.
Divers have been cutting and clearing debris from the bow section, and removing aluminium ingots from the seabed.
Winds of up to 25 knots are expected at the Astrolabe Reef today, predicted to ease to 5-10 knots tomorrow morning, and persisting through until Monday. The current sea state of around 2-2.5m is expected to ease today, dropping to between 1-1.5m by tonight.
A total of 897 containers (of 1368 when Rena grounded) have now been recovered and processed at the port.
Container and debris recovery
The Braemar Howells recovery team successfully intercepted a container spotted by a fishing boat floating north of the wreck site yesterday.
The container with a cargo of milk powder was taken in tow by a tug operated by Braemar’s New Zealand partner Unimar, and hitched up to an anchor point off Motiti Island. A transponder was attached before the container sank at its mooring – it will be recovered in due course. An operation to winch a number of containers from the seabed is still in the planning stages
Operations Manager Lloyd Neil says the operation to intercept and secure the container, swiftly removing any hazard to shipping, was accomplished thanks to a combined effort from all those involved – the Svitzer-Smit team, Maritime New Zealand, and Braemar/Unimar.
“The recovery was mounted soon after the fishing boat reported the sighting to our 0800 debris number, and demonstrates both effective communication systems and good working relationships between all the parties. We work extremely well together under instruction from Rena’s owners who continue to follow developments closely,” he says.
Neil Lloyd says the Braemar/Unimar team has also deployed tugs and barges this morning, using nets to recover some loose wool which floated from the wreck in the large swells which hit this week.
Meanwhile, some shore operations are also continuing into the weekend. Teams are working at Tairua on the Coromandel Peninsula and on Matakana Island cleaning up plastic beads.
Matakana operations have progressed well and the large bead impacted areas at Tank Road are now clear, and beads are being vacuumed from the dunes and vegetation along the shoreline.
Recovery and surveys on Motiti Island were postponed due to the marine conditions but operations to recover wreckage and debris will resume shortly.
Oil spill response
The oil spill response has been reduced from a Tier 3, or national level, to Tier 2, or regional level, response. Any queries about the oil spill response should now be directed to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.
Source: Maritime NZ, June 1, 2012