The process of removing containers from the stricken cargo ship Rena just got easier, now that a crane barge with a longer reach has arrived in Tauranga.
The Smit Borneo will take over from the Sea Tow 60 (ST60) in removing the remaining 1114 containers from the Rena, which ran aground on the Astrolabe Reef on October 5.
The crane barge arrived in the Bay of Plenty this morning, having travelled for 27 days from Singapore, and will likely start removing containers before the end of the week.
Maritime New Zealand salvage advisor Jon Walker said the Smit Borneo's advantage was its 54-metre reach, meaning it could access containers on the starboard side of the Rena when it was working from port, unlike the ST60.
It could also operate in slightly rougher weather than the ST60, but its success was still very much weather dependant.
"It's still a very complicated and difficult operation and again it all depends on the weather. It's also dependant upon the structure of the vessel [the Rena], the condition of the vessel, damage to the containers, how the containers are sitting in the hold _ a lot of various factors are involved in the speed of the recovery of containers,'' Mr Walker said.
The Smit Borneo could also accommodate some 150 people, meaning salvors could stay on-site for longer.
The ST60 would still be used to transfer containers from the Smit Borneo onto port.
A total of 167 containers have so far been removed and an estimated 87 have been washed overboard.
The Rena was hit by a weekend of stormy weather, and moved slightly in heavy swells.
Another deterioration in the weather is expected tomorrow night and wet weather is set to continue for the next few days.