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RENA Update from Maritime NZ (165)

Wednesday, 16 November 2011 6:00 p.m.

The first container has been lifted from the rear of the cargo ship Rena onto the crane barge Sea Tow 60 (ST60), Maritime New Zealand says.

The container was lifted off the ship around 3.30pm, and is one of three that were successfully decoupled by salvors today, ready for transfer to theST60.

"Difficult weather conditions stopped crane operations yesterday, and the salvors had this morning originally planned to move theST60to theRena's more sheltered port side to prepare for removal of containers," MNZ Salvage Manager Kenny Crawford said. "However, thanks to the weather conditions much calmer today, they were able to successfully start the container removal process from the stern of theRena.

"Weather conditions at present are looking pretty good for continued container removal and salvors are keen to take advantage of that window", he said.

"Obviously getting the first container off is a milestone for the operation, but there is still a very long way to go. The removal process will take time, as - for safety reasons - each container needs to be lifted separately. Each will also present its own challenges, depending on its position on the vessel and how badly damaged it is.

"So far 118 transponders have been fitted to precarious containers on the deck, including those containing residue of dangerous goods, and another 102 transponders are being prepared to be fitted. We've also achieved another milestone in emptying port fuel tank number five, which can now be classified as empty of oil," Mr Crawford said.

National On Scene Commander Mick Courtnell said feedback on the lifting of beach access restrictions had been largely positive today.

"Feedback has been positive, but this is certainly not over for us," Mr Courtnell said. "We will continue to have plans, personnel and equipment in place to respond to any further reports of oil and we ask anyone who does see oil to pass that information on via the 0800 OIL SPILL line.

"Access restrictions remain in place at Papamoa and Maketu Spit and we urge the public to exercise caution," he said.

(ST60), Maritime New Zealand says.

The container was lifted off the ship around 3.30pm, and is one of three that were successfully decoupled by salvors today, ready for transfer to theST60.

"Difficult weather conditions stopped crane operations yesterday, and the salvors had this morning originally planned to move theST60to theRena's more sheltered port side to prepare for removal of containers," MNZ Salvage Manager Kenny Crawford said. "However, thanks to the weather conditions much calmer today, they were able to successfully start the container removal process from the stern of theRena.

"Weather conditions at present are looking pretty good for continued container removal and salvors are keen to take advantage of that window", he said.

"Obviously getting the first container off is a milestone for the operation, but there is still a very long way to go. The removal process will take time, as - for safety reasons - each container needs to be lifted separately. Each will also present its own challenges, depending on its position on the vessel and how badly damaged it is.

"So far 118 transponders have been fitted to precarious containers on the deck, including those containing residue of dangerous goods, and another 102 transponders are being prepared to be fitted. We've also achieved another milestone in emptying port fuel tank number five, which can now be classified as empty of oil," Mr Crawford said.

National On Scene Commander Mick Courtnell said feedback on the lifting of beach access restrictions had been largely positive today.

"Feedback has been positive, but this is certainly not over for us," Mr Courtnell said. "We will continue to have plans, personnel and equipment in place to respond to any further reports of oil and we ask anyone who does see oil to pass that information on via the 0800 OIL SPILL line.

"Access restrictions remain in place at Papamoa and Maketu Spit and we urge the public to exercise caution," he said.

RENA First Container Defence Force Photo