Rena being prepared for severe bad weather; ship remains fragile but stable

Rena on January 5 – Photo: Maritime NZ

News from Maritime NZ
Salvors are preparing the Rena for severe bad weather this weekend, with a low pressure system now expected to arrive on Saturday evening, carrying through to Sunday, with the worst weather now expected on Monday. This is forecast to result in a maximum wave height of 6-7m, which is among the worst weather to be forecast so far.

In expectation of the bad weather front, salvors will tomorrow (Saturday) bring the crane barge Smit Borneo back into port. Salvors will use the time to complete routine maintenance on the barge and carry out other work. The support vessel Go Canopus will remain on site to monitor the condition of Rena.

Containers on the bow of the vessel continue to remain lashed down and those that are safely accessible have been fitted with transponders in anticipation of the severe weather front coming through. Work is continuing on erecting a temporary gangway between the forward and aft sections of ship, with a more permanent structure to be built.

Salvors planned to continue with container removal operations today while the weather remained favourable. This brings the total estimated number of containers still on board to 881.
389 containers in total have been removed from Rena, with 98 in total believed to have been lost overboard.

High gas levels detected in the no.5 hold late yesterday caused work to be stopped for safety reasons. Breathing apparatus and other equipment is on the vessel to help manage the hazard, and levels are continuing to be monitored today.

No diving work took place yesterday due to the conditions, but divers hope to be able to inspect the recent damage to the vessel today. This will however be dependent on the conditions and will only occur when it is safe for them to enter the water.
The ship remains in a fragile but stable condition, with electronic sensors on board showing no significant change. Although effectively in two parts, the forward and aft sections of the vessel remain firmly grounded on the reef.

News from Maritime NZ – January 5
Salvors are preparing for severe bad weather this weekend, with a low pressure system expected to arrive on Saturday afternoon, and the worst weather expected on Sunday. This is forecast to result in a maximum sea state of 6-7m, which is among the worst weather to be forecast so far.

Salvors will continue to make the most of the good weather expected for today and tomorrow to remove containers. Fourteen containers were removed from the no.7 hold of the vessel yesterday and loaded onto the ST60, bringing the total number on board the barge to 15. This leaves an estimated 898 containers still on board Rena. Salvors will today focus on removing containers from the no.6 hold, as this presents the easiest access for container removal. 357 containers have now been landed, with none brought ashore yesterday.

Salvors will be working on pumping gas from the no.5 hold so to make the space safe for accessing containers once no.6 has been completed.

Work is continuing on erecting a temporary gangway between the forward and aft sections of ship, with a more permanent structure to be built.

Pumping of oil remnants from the no.5 starboard fuel tank was carried out for 35 minutes yesterday.

The ship remains in a fragile but stable condition, with electronic sensors on board showing no significant change. Weather conditions yesterday meant divers were not able to inspect the underside of the vessel. Divers hope to be able to inspect the recent damage to the vessel today, but this will only occur when it is safe for them to enter the water.

Containers on the bow of the vessel continue to remain lashed down and those that are safely accessible have been fitted with transponders in anticipation of the severe weather front coming through at the weekend.

The BOPRC Harbour master is continuing to deal with a number of vessels and small craft breaching inside the exclusion zone, and reminds all water users that the 3NM zone remains in place around the Rena for operational safety reasons.

Containers
A Braemar Howells team will this morning continue picking up container debris between Papamoa Beach and Maketu – comprising mainly plastic and milk powder, and some meat products.

The company reports that a number of milk powder packets appear to have been opened after arriving on shore, and is urging members of the public to please not open or touch container materials, as this makes them more difficult to recover and is a potential health hazard. Anyone finding containers or container debris is asked to please report it.

Rena on December 22. Photo: Maritime NZ. Click for a larger version.

News from Maritime NZ – January 2
The overflight this morning shows that the Rena is now effectively in two pieces. But she is still firmly grounded on the reef and may be still joined underneath. Divers will examine the undersides once weather and sea conditions improve, probably today.

Light oil sheens have still been seen coming from the bow and stern of the ship. An unknown quantity of oil remains on the ship. Salvors will continue to monitor the state of the Rena

Nine more containers have been misplaced – they could be crushed within #3 hold or lost overboard. Two containers are known to have washed overboard and one has been found.

Two teams will be cleaning beach areas today and one team is heading to Motiti. The storm has washed up debris on to the beaches but no significant fresh oil has been reported. Some weathered oil has washed up near the Kaituna cut but other beaches look relatively clear.

Shoreline assessment teams and clean up teams remain on call. Contractors will resume the clean up from Wednesday. Storm debris will be removed from high use beaches so the beach groomers can clean any weathered oil from the sand. Community groups continue with their Adopt a Beach schemes to clean local areas

Five oiled little blue penguins have been collected over the past two days – the four live birds will be treated and sent to the Wildlife Recovery Centre later this week. Two diving petrels were found lightly oiled and will be treated and fed at a facility in Tauranga. Seventeen penguins, 1 dotterel and 2 grey faced petrels are in care at the Massey facility in Palmerston North

A team will travel to Motiti today to monitor wildlife there for the rest of the week. Two teams worked last night around Mauao and Leisure Island checking on penguins and found one oiled bird

News from Maritime NZ – January 1
Large swells and wind overnight, on top of the heavy swells of the past few days, have caused further damage to the Rena. The break has opened further but she may still be connected underwater. The extent of the damage will need to be verified by divers but the vessel remains firmly grounded on the reef.

The crack in the Rena which is constantly monitored has opened up resulting in the aft section moving more freely than the forward part. This is not unexpected, especially with the sea state – the risk of further damage and loss of containers will continue to be likely in heavy weather.

At least two containers have washed overboard. Braemar’s recovery team has been out since first light this morning with four vessels searching for lost containers. Shipping lanes were scanned with sonar and found to be clear

A helicopter flight has confirmed more timber and packets of milk powder washed ashore on Motiti Island. Shoreline surveys have found more debris washed ashore

Auckland.Scoop – December 31
Maritime New Zealand reports that the list and the heading of the aft section of the Rena have changed overnight. It says that with the salvors it is continuing to monitor the state of the vessel closely.

There are no immediate plans to mobilise further resources. The weather is expected to improve which will allow aerial observations to recommence.

Radio New Zealand reports:
Significant new cracks in Rena and more oil leaks

January 1, NZ Herald reports:
Oil on New Year’s beaches