Divers assessing Rena wreckage and deciding: what to do next?

News from Maritime NZ
Divers today continued a full assessment of the state of the wreck of the Rena – its stability on the reef and general condition – as the first stage of working out what to do next.

“It’s extremely challenging and dangerous work,” National On Scene Commander Rob Service said, “because of the surges of water through the broken structure and the vast amount of torn steel and other debris.”

For safety reasons, the divers will not be entering the vessel’s holds until it is deemed safe to do so.

A sonar inspection was undertaken yesterday, with the results awaited.

The Braemar Howells container recovery team said three containers submerged off Matakana Island will be inspected this week to try to identify them and check their condition.

Debris collection around White Island and at Motiti Island will be a focus of the clean-up this week.

Two boats are positioned in the White Island region ready to begin debris retrieval. A container base has been retrieved from White Island. A barge will be sent to Motiti Island to remove debris, which includes wood and milk powder bags.

Beach clean-ups will continue in Bowentown and Matakana Island at low tide. Further down the coast in the Whakatane area, local contracted labour workforce are being activated to tackle debris removal. This will cover the area from Whakatane to Torere, including Opotiki and Ohope beach.

Another container washed ashore today on rocks in the Bowentown area. Retrieval is likely to be by boat.

Braemar Howells said 52 containers have so far been recovered from the beaches and the water and 18 others have been located, either on beaches or in the water

Sonar has identified seven possible targets between the Rena wreck and Motiti Island.

Mr Service said oil clean-up at Mount Maunganui and Leisure Island resumed today after yesterday’s rest day, with 15 people working at each site.

“In both cases the oil being collected is predominantly old oil that has been exposed as a result of sand erosion, rather than fresh oil from the Rena breaking in two last week,” he said. Concentrated clean-up will continue at Mount Maunganui for the next three days.”

Repairs have been carried out to a leaking oil protective boom at Maketu, with no oil entering the estuary.

A SCAT team has been at Motiti Island today surveying the coastline for oil.

The clean-up at Matakana Island continues – large quantities of timber, wool, twine and other debris, much of it oil-coated. Some pallets of timber are almost completely buried in sand after the recent storms.

Wildlife field teams have been at Matakana and Motiti Islands today, and north of Waihi. Currently, there are 34 little blue penguins in care, along with three grey-faced petrels and one dotterel.

News from Maritime NZ – January 15
Divers have today carried out preliminary sub-surface inspections around the wrecked Rena. This will enable them to prepare for a full underwater survey of the sunken rear section once the sea swells ease over the next couple of days.

Once a detailed underwater survey is complete, the salvage contractors can plan their next steps to recover underwater containers.

The crane barge Smit Borneo has also now connected to the sunken aft section of the Rena on its port (left-hand) side.

Shoreline assessment teams were out on Matakana Island today and teams also checked on the protective oil booms at Maketū, Little Waihi and Waitahanui which will remain in place.

A Shoreline Clean-up Assessment Teams (SCAT) will be deployed to Motiti Island tomorrow, with the assistance of an environmental advisor. Wildlife field teams today recovered two dead oiled little blue penguins from Papamoa. Today a lightly-oiled little blue penguin was transferred from Motiti Island to the Te Maunga wildlife recovery facility.

Braemar Howells container recovery team had five vessels along the Bay of Plenty coastline today.

Rough seas hampered efforts for the Braemar Howells team to recover debris in the White Island area using the crane barge Subritzski and a fast response craft. Another vessel has been working to recover a container north of Waihi beach.



  1. axeman, 16. January 2012, 1:08

    I would really like to know: were the early attempts to drag the vessel out by tug detrimental to a larger amount of oil being lost and damage to the vessel? I have observed, on the stern left side second row of containers, situated in the third bank, five and six high container’s both right hand side doors are open. They appear empty but how is it, that these doors are open in the first place? Have a look yourself, http://www.maritimenz.govt.nz/images/Incident-area/Containers10.jpg
    May your canoe have many pipis.

  2. Sailor Sam, 16. January 2012, 23:42

    axeman – when rocks stick up into the steel structure of a ship and this structure is not floating but bearing heavily down onto those rocks, no tug is going to move it off those rocks. That is an impossible task.
    It can only be made possible by reducing this downwards load, hence the decision to remove containers first
    That the front section was(is) wedged solid has been proven by the back end (not wedged on the rocks) breaking free from the front end. The effect of constant bending of the steel at the junction of the wedged and floating parts by waves caused that steel to fail.