Wave surges stopping divers from assessing damage to Rena’s submerged stern

News from Maritime NZ
Swells around the Astrolabe Reef are continuing to prevent salvors from diving on the wreck to assess the damage caused through Rena’s break-up and partial sinking of the stern.

MNZ Salvage Unit Manager David Billington said the current swell was around 2m, with a maximum wave height of 4m. The sea state was expected to peak tomorrow and to subside over the weekend.

“The breaking up of the wreck has exposed a lot of jagged steel and the wave surges are causing containers and debris to shift around. It is not safe for divers to attempt to dive on the wreck in the current conditions,” Mr Billington said.

Yesterday, Svitzer dropped rigging technicians onto the front section of the wreck, still firm on the Astrolabe Reef, to secure containers on the bow. They will return today to check on the rigging to ensure the containers remained as secure as possible. Svitzer naval architects are developing plans for container removal from the front section.

“The Smit Borneo is ready to go back out to the wreck when the weather conditions allow. Svitzer continues to assess how the barge can get access to the bow section.”

A total of 30 containers have been found ashore in a number of locations. More than 10 vessels undertaking container and debris recovery are in action today – including two specialised barges with excavator arms to tackle floating debris.

Braemar aim to begin removing 11 containers beached on Matakana Island today. They will be using both shoreline recovery – transferring the containers by road transport using the vehicle ferry – and on-water recovery by hauling some back into the sea to be lifted onto barges. Matakana Island is one of the areas that has borne the brunt of the debris washing ashore – there is a large scale operation there that will continue for some time.

Braemar Howells teams were scouring beaches from the Mount to Papamoa where small patches of debris had been located. Operations were also underway on Mōtītī Island and Waihi.

News from Maritime NZ – January 11
The Svitzer salvage dive team is on standby to go down and assess the condition of the Rena’s submerged stern, when the current swells ease in the next few days. The current sea state, combined with the dangerous state of the wreck, is preventing dive operations at this stage. The dive inspection will confirm the state of the stern (today’s photo, above, from Svitzer) and will guide the next steps in the salvage operation.

The Rena’s bow section, intact today on the reef. Photo: Svitzer.

More than 150 responders have been assisting in the Braemar Howells-led container and debris recovery operations today. Twelve vessels, including specialist tugs, barges and rapid response vessels have been on the water today corralling and collecting containers and debris. These operations have focused on areas north west of the Astrolabe Reef and north of Motiti Island, as well as near Waihi Beach.

Six containers have been removed from Waihi Beach with another 10 between Bowentown and just north of Waihi Beach still to be removed.

11 containers will be removed from Matakana Island as soon as possible.

Braemar Howells reports very little debris came ashore overnight – due in large part to the on-water recovery efforts targeting the debris fields yesterday.

Aerial observation flight this afternoon confirmed around 12 patches of sheen, each measuring approximately 100m by 50m. Dark patches of oil were visible within these patches. Observers noted these patches of oil appeared to be breaking down naturally in the swell. Current trajectory modelling predicts oil is likely to reach beaches at Little Waihi and Pukehina from tomorrow evening. However, trajectory modelling is based only on the prevailing conditions and can change – modelling is being regularly updated and we will let you know if this trajectory changes.