International divers assist Rena salvage

By Genevieve Helliwell

A team of international underwater divers and a specialist barge are set to arrive in Tauranga to assist in the next stage of salvage at the Rena wreck.

The RMG 280 crane barge, which has travelled from Singapore, is expected to arrive at the Port of Tauranga at 5pm tonight.

A team of expert divers from the United States are also arriving in town to assist the salvage operations.

The first members of the team arrived yesterday and others a set to arrive next week.

A spokesperson from the salvage company Resolve Salvage and Fire said the arrival of the barge and diving team would allow underwater salvage operations to begin, hopefully early next week.

"The crane barge, which will operate from deeper water at the aft end of the bow section, can raise significantly larger pieces of steel than the helicopters,'' the spokesperson said.

The helicopter is able to lift a maximum of 3 tonnes while the 70m barge is able to lift up to 40 tonnes.

Salvors have made good progress age at the wreck this week, despite operations being suspended for two days as a result of high winds and swells.

About 430 tonnes of steel has been removed from the Rena wreck. This is more than 20 per cent of the total weight to be removed.

Meanwhile a specialist boat is assisting the Braemar Howells/Unimar team to remove debris from the seabed as the bow section of Rena is cut away.

Operations manager Mike Richards said the 26m boat, Tasman Challenger, had been specially fitted out for the role.

Before work could begin, a remote mooring system had to be put in place, to allow the vessel to tie up to buoys instead of putting an anchor down.

Mr Richards said the mooring system meant the Challenger could be moved quickly to accommodate helicopter operations.

In the sea, divers are sent down to hook lines to larger pieces of scrap, which are lifted aboard by crane. Smaller items are put into baskets, which are then lifted aboard.

In one day, more than 20 tonnes of container scrap, scrap steel, coils of wire and other material was recovered from the seabed.

Onshore, clean up teams have finished surveying Coromandel beaches and are continuing south, down through the Bay of Plenty and towards Gisborne.

To date, 996 containers have been recovered.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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