Blogger shut down over Rena postings

By Geoff Cumming

The Go Canopus and the Awanuia continued to recover oil from the Rena yesterday. Photo / LOC
The Go Canopus and the Awanuia continued to recover oil from the Rena yesterday. Photo / LOC

A blogger has been barred from sending updates on the Rena salvage operation after posting a string of behind-the-scenes insights into the disaster and the perils and logistics of the salvage.

The postings on the "Antipodean Mariner" blogsite are from a crew member of the Go Canopus, a multi-purpose tug recovering oil from the Rena.

Recent posts reveal frustration at the 12-month timetable to remove the ship's containers and suggest the officer on watch on the night of the disaster altered course, putting the Rena on a collision course with the Astrolabe Reef.

The posts ran almost daily for three weeks and dwell on the challenges facing the salvors, including the stench and maggots from rotting freezer containers.

But the blogger signed off on Thursday after a New Zealand regulatory agency objected and he was warned of a non-disclosure clause in his contract.

The posts were being followed in New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia, Russia and Scotland.

A post last Sunday says: "AIS data suggests that the officer of the watch altered the vessel's course to make directly for the pilot station. Unfortunately for him (and the ship) there was a well-charted reef between him and the pilot!"

AIS (automatic identification system) is used to continuously monitor a ship's position, speed and course.

The ship's second officer was tasked with the navigational watch, the Herald reported last month. He faces charges along with the Rena's captain.

A seafaring source noted that several variables could affect any decision to change course, such as out-of-date charts, incorrect setting or failure to account for tide or wind.

A Maritime NZ spokeswoman said the organisation was not responsible for closing down the blogsite. With two investigations under way, it could not comment about the change-of-course claim.

What the blogger wrote

Monday, Nov 7

"We have been advised that the container salvage reps ... quoted a rate of removal of three containers per day and estimated that it would take a year to unload. WTF! - that rate makes even the Brisbane wharfies look good.

"Mother Nature will have it emptied for them long before a year is out. A summer cyclone will have it unloaded in less than 24 hours. I would be appalled if Maritime NZ signed up for that deal ..."

Tuesday, Nov 8

"Spare a thought for the personnel on the Awanuia. They are moored 30m down wind of the stern of the Rena. Every moment on deck they would be exposed to the stench emanating from the rotting contents of the freezer containers. I would assume that their air condition system is set to recycle.

"...It is probably not noticeable to the casual observer, but there is further compression buckling of the hull apparent at the water line at low tide ... To the non-mariners, think of her as slightly bent to the left, like a banana. It appears that the incessant harmonic motions of wind, tide, tidal stream (tide-induced current), waves and swell, appear to have finally severed the spine of the Rena. The Dutch salvage rep on board ... confirmed that there is now a 60cm movement in all directions, between the forward and aft sections."

Thursday, October 27

"I would hate to guess what the daily cost is for all of this. Personnel, hotel bills, helicopters, support boats and shipping charter costs are not cheap, so the NZ taxpayer will end up footing a phenomenal bill for it all ... No doubt that will all come out during the upcoming electioneering."

Thursday, Nov 3

"Spare a thought for the salvage team. Apparently the stench of rotting flesh is now all-pervasive on board the Rena, with many of them retching continuously in certain work areas."

Friday, Nov 4

"Prior to working on the poop [deck], the salvors had to run a fire pump ... to wash the maggots overboard. The fish are getting very fat and thriving out here."

On the web
http://antipodeanmariner.blogspot.com/

- NZ Herald

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