Salvors work at a different pace than most of us. Their days are measured by the rhythm of tides and the chime of swells. Bouts of frenzied activity are routinely punctuated by delays often lasting days or even weeks. So it goes for the salvors working the R/V Rena, which wrecked off the coast of New Zealand on October 5.
As of December 12, 195 containers had been removed from the stricken cargo vessel–salvors averaging 13 to 15 containers a day since the arrival of the large crane barge Smit Borneo on December 6. But marginal weather conditions have checked further progress. Earlier this week, large swells and windy conditions suspended salvage operations. Salvors have been working to improved the stricken vessel’s buoyancy in the interim. The rough weather has also released trapped pockets of oil into the Bay of Plenty. According to the New Zealand Herald, an overhead flight on Monday morning “showed a visible metallic sheen of oil about 4.5km long from the vessel.” Beach crews swarmed nearby beaches, cleaning up the oil that continued to wash ashore in “small amounts.”
The investigation into the wreck continues. On December 7, the organization charged with investigating the disaster released the following update:
The Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) advises that it has made good progress with the fact gathering to inform its safety-focused inquiry into the Rena grounding. The Commission needs to attend to some procedural matters before releasing an interim factual report which it now expects to do early in the New Year.
I look forward to reading the report. Until then, however, we’re all left speculating about what happened.
For more up-to-the-minute updates see the Maritime New Zealand website.
For more about the Rena see this earlier post.