New Zealand: Salvage Partners Recover All Containers from Rena
Salvage activity last week has focused on the demobilising of equipment after the joint venture salvage partners, Smit and Svitzer, completed the current phase of the salvage operation by recovering all accessible containers, a month ahead of schedule.
In respect to salvage activities a total of 940 containers from Rena have now been processed ashore.
The owners and insurers of Rena have issued a tender for the next stages of the operation, which will now shift to wreck removal. While this process is underway, Braemar/Unimar has taken an expanded role of monitoring the wreck site – see below for more detail.
MNZ’s role, of overseeing the salvage and container/debris recovery operations, remains the same.
The Braemar/Unimar recovery team has taken advantage of the fine weather this week and successfully lifted a number of containers from the seabed.
Operations Manager Neil Lloyd says the low swell conditions allowed the Unimar marine team to forge ahead with the operation, which has taken months of careful planning.
Five containers in a variety of locations were hauled from the sea floor with the help of divers – and lifted onto the Sea Tow 60 barge operated by Unimar, Braemar’s New Zealand partner in the clean–up project.
“While the fine weather this week meant we could push ahead, a huge amount of work has gone into this new phase in the recovery work, including safety preparations, and weight calculations,” says Mr Lloyd.
“A specialised dive team using a vessel equipped with a decompression chamber was used; divers were sent down to pre–rig containers and prepare them safe lifting.”
Neil Lloyd says the recovery team spent some months preparing – with sonar equipment and more recently an ROV – a remote operated underwater vehicle – to home in on a number of targets and fix their positions for recovery. He says that more containers in water less than 50 metres deep will be lifted off the seabed over coming weeks, when weather conditions allow it.
Meanwhile, the Braemar/Unimar team has stepped up its activities at the Rena site – overseeing the wreck’s safety and security and closely monitoring its condition.
“We’ve established an exclusion safety zone which is being patrolled 24–7, and so far there have been no incidents or releases.
“We can assure Bay of Plenty people that the wreck is not being left on its own unattended, as some media have incorrectly reported. We are extremely well placed to respond to any releases with a variety of tugs, barges and fast response craft, and well–tested response plans.”
Braemar shoreline response teams have continued to carry out beach surveys and debris has been recovered from an area running from Pukehina to Matata, and Waihi Beach. Flotsam recovered includes refrigeration foam, sawn timber, plywood sheets and plastic beads.
Similar work is continuing on the Coromandel Peninsula where large amounts of small flotsam has been recovered from isolated coves. Areas including Sailors Grave and Hot Water Beach are still being impacted by plastic beads washing ashore.
Neil Lloyd says the shoreline work is also continuing on Matakana Island, where some re–cleaning has been necessary. The teams have made improvements to the portable vacuum equipment in use, increasing the amount of debris that can be recovered.
Operations are also planned for Motiti Island where container wreckage will be recovered by divers. Debris including plastic, rope, timber and food packets is strewn among rocky outcrops.
When it comes to oil spill response, it has been reduced from a Tier 3, or national level, to Tier 2, or regional level, response.
Source: Maritime New Zealand, June 18, 2012