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RENA Update from Maritime NZ (133)

Tuesday, 1 November 2011 7:40 p.m.

See below the latest update from Maritime NZ (

Rena (update 69)

31 October 2011: 5.45pm

The stricken vessel Rena is being closely monitored overnight while oil spill response teams and salvors remain ready to respond if the ship deteriorates in forecast bad weather over the next 24 hours.

Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) Salvage Unit Manager Bruce Anderson said a maximum sea state of about 5 metres was predicted overnight, which would cause further stress on the already damaged hull.

He said the conditions were similar to those experienced around 11 October when the hull sustained significant damage and a release of around 350 tonnes of oil.

Salvage operations were suspended yesterday due to the bad weather, and salvors had sealed the tanks to minimise the potential for further oil leaking from the ship. Additional sensors had been placed on the hull to monitor the vessel's movement.

UK-based container recovery specialists Braemar Howells Ltd had been contracted to manage container recovery and had developed an emergency contingency plan in the event of more containers being lost overboard. Braemar had vessels and aircraft on hand to respond. However, any recovery efforts would be weather-dependent.

Mr Anderson said there was the "strong possibility" of more containers being washed overboard.

The tug Go Canopus remained on site and teams on board were monitoring the state of Rena. Go Canopus was attached to the ship and attempts would be made to tow the stern to shallower water if it became detached from the bow.

Mr Anderson said the salvage team did not know at this point whether the sea state would result in the vessel breaking up. The vessel was being closely monitored for any changes that signified deterioration in its condition.

National On Scene Commander Mick Courtnell said the oil spill response team was ready to respond to any oil coming ashore.

Around 150 New Zealand Defence Force personnel were available for clean-up operations if needed tomorrow, and about 250 volunteers had committed to assist.

Mr Courtnell said trajectory modelling was continuing in the incident command centre and around 40 oil spill specialists would be on the beach at first light tomorrow, assessing whether any oil had reached the shoreline.

"We will continue to use both our trajectory modelling and our eyes to monitor the movement of any oil released from the ship. At this stage our modelling indicates around a 12-hour window between oil being released and any oil reaching the shoreline," he said.

Current projections would see oil moving past the west of Motiti Island and reaching beaches that have already been oiled, from Papamoa to Maketu Peninsula.

Mr Courtnell said the "tried and tested" techniques used by teams to clean oil after the 11 October spill would again be put into place.

"Our volunteers are now experienced oil spill responders. While we appreciate it's frustrating to see that oil will again reach those cleaned beaches, at least we know what we are dealing with. We know we have the planning, the equipment and the people in place to respond to whatever comes ashore."