RENA update from Maritime NZ (131)
Tuesday, 1 November 2011 11:45 a.m.
The salvage team monitoring the effect of high sea swells on the grounded cargo vessel Rena has confirmed further damage to the hull overnight.
The team is on board the tug Go Canopus, which is connected to Rena, keeping a close eye on the stricken vessel. Salvage efforts were suspended yesterday due to bad weather.
Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) Salvage Unit Manager Bruce Anderson said the team had reported further buckling of the hull on the starboard side, just forward of the bridge.
The buckling is further back from the main cracks in the hull, and the ship is still holding in one piece for now. An observation flight this morning had to turn back at Motiti Island due to the poor weather.
"The situation is looking increasingly precarious and we are preparing for the worst," Mr Anderson said.
"The worst of the weather is due to hit around midnight tonight. We are continuing to closely monitor the situation."
Mr Anderson said Go Canopus would attempt to tow the stern to shallower water if it detached from the bow. However, the tug would only remain connected as long as it was safe to do so.
"Rena held up well through the bad weather two weeks ago, but we may not be so fortunate this time," Mr Anderson said.
Specialist container recovery company Braemar Howells Ltd has been contracted to deal with containers that may be released fromRena, and has four tugs on standby in Tauranga, with a further two on site monitoring Rena in case containers fall overboard.
"The team at Braemar is making every effort to ensure they are ready to corral and secure released containers.
"However, as always, safety is the priority and the poor weather means there will only be so much that can be done initially."
There is an estimated 350 tonnes of oil remaining in the starboard tank, which is currently intact.
National On Scene Commander Mick Courtnell said the oil spill response team remained in rapid response mode to mobilise when required. A group of volunteers is also on alert and ready to assist.
"It has been an extraordinary effort to get as far as we have and remove over 1,000 tonnes of heavy fuel oil from the ship, but we have always been at the mercy of the weather. The possibility of the ship breaking up has always been on the cards.
"We have everything in place to deal with further oil on the beaches and we urge those who have registered as volunteers to continue giving their support."
You can view this information and more on the Maritime New Zealand website, at www.maritimenz.govt.nz/news/media-releases-2011/20111101a.asp