Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Rena: What's The End Game?

Rena is just 'marking time'. Maritime NZ says the 47,000-tonne container ship is simply hanging on the edge of Astrolabe Reef, with a very real threat of more oil spilling into the Bay of Plenty.
The oil recovery is slow and weather-dependent and, at this time of year, the weather gods constantly change their minds. We're told that, all things being equal, up to 50 tonnes of oil could be removed every hour which means it could all be off in a day. Ahhh, "all things being equal"…
that's the big question.
Rena's bow is on the reef but 60m of the vessel hangs dangerously out into aquatic space. With her skin split completely, she's only held together by her internal structures, and is constantly flexing and twisting, trying to rip herself apart. The only thing keeping her afloat is the buoyancy of the air in the engine room. And yesterday Maritime NZ salvage head Bruce Anderson was quoted in one story as saying she had broken into two parts (though that's now proven incorrect).
So this raises an enormous question, one I have not heard asked yet. Assuming the oil is successfully removed (but expect the probability of more spills), what of Rena then?
+Will she be left on the reef to break up and rot?
+Will salvors weld steel "band-aids" to hold her together?
+Will tugs begin a frantic tow out to sea where she can sink?
+Or if towing her to land, where would they head to?
The salvage experts on-hand, Svitzer, are regarded as one of the best - if not the best - in the business. So if they say something can (or cannot) be done, they certainly have the expertise to make that call. I just hope the green light for action from our end will be a damn sight quicker than the initial response was…
PS: 19 Oct.2011 - Maritime NZ says it has plans should the stern break free. Salvage unit manager Andrew Berry says tugs would try towing it to shallow waters: several potential destination sites with less than 50m depth have been identified.

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