Jamie Morton

Jamie Morton is science reporter at the NZ Herald.

Rena's rooms raised from reef wreck

A barge carries the top half of the huge accommodation block into the port of Tauranga. Photo / Alan Gibson
A barge carries the top half of the huge accommodation block into the port of Tauranga. Photo / Alan Gibson

The massive accommodation block of the wrecked container ship Rena has seen daylight for the first time in more than two years.

The top half of the block was carried into Tauranga Harbour yesterday evening.

Salvors Resolve Salvage and Fire on Wednesday night successfully raised the top half of the ship's accommodation block from the seabed and placed it on to a transport barge.

It's the first time the block has been above water since the ship broke apart on Astrolabe Reef off the Tauranga coast and sank in a January 2012 storm.

A salvage operation, expected to ultimately cost the ship's owners $350 million, has been ongoing since the ship struck the reef on October 5, 2011, spilling 350 tonnes of heavy fuel oil and container debris into the ocean.

The time it took to remove the block was due to poor conditions on site, which led to the decision to transport the piece underwater in behind Motiti Island.

During the first lift attempt last Thursday, the lifting chains tore through the starboard section.

Specialist divers spent the next four days resetting the rigging before the section could be re-raised.

Another barge has been back out at Astrolabe (Otaiti) reef undertaking preparations ahead of the next major cut-and-lift task.

As soon as weather conditions allow, salvors will head back on site to start work on removing the lower half of the 350-tonne block structure.

- NZ Herald

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