Rena salvage: Preparations to pump oil

Aerial shot taken in the morning of Sunday, October 23, showing a sheen of oil that had leaked from the Rena overnight.
Aerial shot taken in the morning of Sunday, October 23, showing a sheen of oil that had leaked from the Rena overnight.
Photo taken by salvage team looking out of Rena's bridge showing the list of the vessel against the horizon.
Photo taken by salvage team looking out of Rena's bridge showing the list of the vessel against the horizon.
Rena's bow is broken and twisted from the impact with the Astrolabe Reef off Tauranga.
Rena's bow is broken and twisted from the impact with the Astrolabe Reef off Tauranga.
Calm conditions around Astrolabe Reef on Thursday, October 20, allowed these close up photos of the Rena's stern to be taken.
Calm conditions around Astrolabe Reef on Thursday, October 20, allowed these close up photos of the Rena's stern to be taken.
The ocean washes in and out of the wide fracture on Rena's starboard side.
The ocean washes in and out of the wide fracture on Rena's starboard side.
Rena's remaining containers hang precariously. More than 80 containers have fallen overboard. Many have come ashore, and others are being located on the seabed.
Rena's remaining containers hang precariously. More than 80 containers have fallen overboard. Many have come ashore, and others are being located on the seabed.
A Maritime NZ diagram  shows how the Rena is grounded on the Astrolabe Reef.
A Maritime NZ diagram shows how the Rena is grounded on the Astrolabe Reef.
A Maritime NZ  diagram shows how the Rena is grounded on the Astrolabe Reef.
A Maritime NZ diagram shows how the Rena is grounded on the Astrolabe Reef.
HANGING IN THERE: The Awanuia sits behind the Rena and its leaning stack of containers.
HANGING IN THERE: The Awanuia sits behind the Rena and its leaning stack of containers.
CLEAR SPELL: Salvors are racing against time to remove oil from the Rena before bad weather hits late on Monday, October 17.
CLEAR SPELL: Salvors are racing against time to remove oil from the Rena before bad weather hits late on Monday, October 17.
HEAVY LIST: Rena's cargo sits precariously on the deck of the ship.
HEAVY LIST: Rena's cargo sits precariously on the deck of the ship.
Containers from the grounded cargo ship Rena are removed from east of the main beach at Mt Maunganui after washing ashore.
Containers from the grounded cargo ship Rena are removed from east of the main beach at Mt Maunganui after washing ashore.
Salvors have attached platforms to the stricken ship Rena.
Salvors have attached platforms to the stricken ship Rena.
Platforms salvors have attached to the Rena as they attempt to resume pumping oil from the stricken ship.
Platforms salvors have attached to the Rena as they attempt to resume pumping oil from the stricken ship.
A Royal New Zealand Air Force helicopter winches a salvage expert onto the stricken container ship Rena.
A Royal New Zealand Air Force helicopter winches a salvage expert onto the stricken container ship Rena.
DEFORMED: Damage to the Rena's structure.
DEFORMED: Damage to the Rena's structure.
HEAVY DAMAGE: Rena lists to starboard, with the damage to her hull clear.
HEAVY DAMAGE: Rena lists to starboard, with the damage to her hull clear.
An Air Force Iroquois helicopter lowers crew onto the Rena, Thursday October 13. What looks like smoke billowing from the ship is probably milk powder, Fonterra said. There were 90 containers of the product on the ship.
An Air Force Iroquois helicopter lowers crew onto the Rena, Thursday October 13. What looks like smoke billowing from the ship is probably milk powder, Fonterra said. There were 90 containers of the product on the ship.
An Air Force Iroquois helicopter lowers crew onto the Rena.
An Air Force Iroquois helicopter lowers crew onto the Rena.
The slick drifting from the Rena, seen from the air, Thursday October 13.
The slick drifting from the Rena, seen from the air, Thursday October 13.
This image shows a crack appearing in the middle of the Rena's hull.
This image shows a crack appearing in the middle of the Rena's hull.
Containers have also been crushed as heavy swells wash across Rena's deck.
Containers have also been crushed as heavy swells wash across Rena's deck.
Rena losing containers as heavy swells wash across the ship's deck on the starboard side.
Rena losing containers as heavy swells wash across the ship's deck on the starboard side.
A container coming ashore on the northern side of Motiti Island, which is around 7km from the ship grounding site.
A container coming ashore on the northern side of Motiti Island, which is around 7km from the ship grounding site.
The first container to hit the rocks and break-up on the northern side of Motiti Island, which is around 7km from the ship.
The first container to hit the rocks and break-up on the northern side of Motiti Island, which is around 7km from the ship.
POUNDED: Waves crash onto the listing Rena's deck.
POUNDED: Waves crash onto the listing Rena's deck.
Many containers on the Rena's top deck are tipped on a heavy angle, close to toppling off.
Many containers on the Rena's top deck are tipped on a heavy angle, close to toppling off.
This photo taken from the HMNZS Endeavour shows Rena listing in heavy seas. Between 30 and 70 containers fell from the Rena overnight.
This photo taken from the HMNZS Endeavour shows Rena listing in heavy seas. Between 30 and 70 containers fell from the Rena overnight.
INJURED: A naval officer is carried to an ambulance after a member of the salvage crew fell on him during the evacuation of the ship.
INJURED: A naval officer is carried to an ambulance after a member of the salvage crew fell on him during the evacuation of the ship.
RENA: The ship has 1368 containers on board.
RENA: The ship has 1368 containers on board.
LISTING: Waves break over the reef while the Rena sits, stranded.
LISTING: Waves break over the reef while the Rena sits, stranded.
The Rena, a Liberia-flagged 235m vessel, had been heading to Tauranga from Napier when it crashed into the Astrolabe Reef, about 7km north of Motiti Island.
The Rena, a Liberia-flagged 235m vessel, had been heading to Tauranga from Napier when it crashed into the Astrolabe Reef, about 7km north of Motiti Island.
Low tide showed the extent of the problems facing the Rena's specialist salvage team.
Low tide showed the extent of the problems facing the Rena's specialist salvage team.
The crew had remained onboard despite the vessel's list.
The crew had remained onboard despite the vessel's list.
The crippled Rena, with  a growing oil slick, off the coast of Mt Maunganui.
The crippled Rena, with a growing oil slick, off the coast of Mt Maunganui.
The Rena, a Liberia-flagged 235m vessel, had been heading to Tauranga from Napier when it crashed into the Astrolabe Reef, about 7km north of Motiti Island.
The Rena, a Liberia-flagged 235m vessel, had been heading to Tauranga from Napier when it crashed into the Astrolabe Reef, about 7km north of Motiti Island.
The Rena, a Liberia-flagged 235m vessel, had been heading to Tauranga from Napier when it crashed into the Astrolabe Reef, about 7km north of Motiti Island.
The Rena, a Liberia-flagged 235m vessel, had been heading to Tauranga from Napier when it crashed into the Astrolabe Reef, about 7km north of Motiti Island.

More than 3000 people have now volunteered to help clean up oil-soaked Bay of Plenty beaches.

The stricken Rena is now settled "comfortably" on Astrolabe reef, but is only just holding itself together because of its position, a Marine expert says.

The stricken vessel has moved to rest on the reef off Tauranga and calmer weather had today helped salvage operations, meaning oil could soon be pumped out from the ship.

Oil responder Bruce Goff with the Terminator oil skimmer ready for deployment. on Sunday, October 23.
Oil responder Bruce Goff with the Terminator oil skimmer ready for deployment. on Sunday, October 23.
Debris covered in oil have wash-up at Waihau Bay on the East Cape where Taika Waititi's Boy was filmed.
Debris covered in oil have wash-up at Waihau Bay on the East Cape where Taika Waititi's Boy was filmed.
EN MASSE: Protesters march against deep sea drilling in Tauranga, ahead of the appearance of the Rena's captain and navigator in court.
EN MASSE: Protesters march against deep sea drilling in Tauranga, ahead of the appearance of the Rena's captain and navigator in court.
IN NUMBERS: Protesters march against deep sea drilling in Tauranga.
IN NUMBERS: Protesters march against deep sea drilling in Tauranga.
MAKING A STAND: Protesters gather outside the Tauranga District Court ahead of the appearances of the Rena's captain and navigator on Wednesday, October 19.
MAKING A STAND: Protesters gather outside the Tauranga District Court ahead of the appearances of the Rena's captain and navigator on Wednesday, October 19.
AGAINST DRILLING: Protesters march against offshore drilling ahead of the appearances of the Rena's captain and navigator in the Tauranga District Court on Wednesday, October 19.
AGAINST DRILLING: Protesters march against offshore drilling ahead of the appearances of the Rena's captain and navigator in the Tauranga District Court on Wednesday, October 19.
Wellington Zoo vet Baukje Lenting with a Little Blue Penguin that is at Tauranga’s  Bird Recovery Centre having oil cleaned from it using a toothbrush.
Wellington Zoo vet Baukje Lenting with a Little Blue Penguin that is at Tauranga’s Bird Recovery Centre having oil cleaned from it using a toothbrush.
PM John Key visits the Bird recovery Centre where he watches Little blue Penguins that have been cleaned of oil.
PM John Key visits the Bird recovery Centre where he watches Little blue Penguins that have been cleaned of oil.
Advice about wildlife that may be affected by the Rena oil spill, at Mt Maunganui.
Advice about wildlife that may be affected by the Rena oil spill, at Mt Maunganui.
A seagull shows the effects of the spilt oil at Makatu.
A seagull shows the effects of the spilt oil at Makatu.
Containers on Mount Maunganui Beach.
Containers on Mount Maunganui Beach.
Volunteers clean up packets of burger patties from the broken container washed up on Mount Maunganui Beach.
Volunteers clean up packets of burger patties from the broken container washed up on Mount Maunganui Beach.
Prime Minister John Key attended a public meeting in Papamoa and went in a helicopter to see the Rena.
Prime Minister John Key attended a public meeting in Papamoa and went in a helicopter to see the Rena.
ON THE MOVE: A container is hauled off the beach.
ON THE MOVE: A container is hauled off the beach.
A little blue penguin awaits transportation to the National Oiled Wildlife Recovery Centre in Tauranga.
A little blue penguin awaits transportation to the National Oiled Wildlife Recovery Centre in Tauranga.
SCATTERED: Containers on the beach just south of Mount Maunganui.
SCATTERED: Containers on the beach just south of Mount Maunganui.
SALVAGE:Containers sit in the water on Mt Maunganui beach. Pictured Friday, October 14.
SALVAGE:Containers sit in the water on Mt Maunganui beach. Pictured Friday, October 14.
STRANDED: One of the Rena's broken containers which washed up on Mt Maunganui beach. Pictured Friday, October 14.
STRANDED: One of the Rena's broken containers which washed up on Mt Maunganui beach. Pictured Friday, October 14.
PULLED ASHORE: One of the Rena's broken containers which washed up on Mt Maunganui beach. Pictured Friday, October 14.
PULLED ASHORE: One of the Rena's broken containers which washed up on Mt Maunganui beach. Pictured Friday, October 14.
Oil scooped from the surface of the water inside the Rena shipwreck's 1km exclusion zone.
Oil scooped from the surface of the water inside the Rena shipwreck's 1km exclusion zone.
Oil booms are prepared at the Maketu Estuary in the Bay of Plenty, Thursday October 13.
Oil booms are prepared at the Maketu Estuary in the Bay of Plenty, Thursday October 13.
Territorial soldiers from Auckland clean up Papamoa Beach, near Tauranga, Thursday October 13.
Territorial soldiers from Auckland clean up Papamoa Beach, near Tauranga, Thursday October 13.
Containers washed up at Papamoa Beach, Thursday October 13.
Containers washed up at Papamoa Beach, Thursday October 13.
Two containers seen at Papamoa Beach on Thursday October 13.
Two containers seen at Papamoa Beach on Thursday October 13.
The clean-up operation on Papamoa Beach, Thursday October 13.
The clean-up operation on Papamoa Beach, Thursday October 13.
Oil on Papamoa Beach, Thursday October 13.
Oil on Papamoa Beach, Thursday October 13.
Packets of meat patties from a container off the Rena have washed up on Mt Maunganui beach.
Packets of meat patties from a container off the Rena have washed up on Mt Maunganui beach.
Police check a container that has washed up on Mt Maunganui beach.
Police check a container that has washed up on Mt Maunganui beach.
The bleak scene as containers wash up on Mt Maunganui beach.
The bleak scene as containers wash up on Mt Maunganui beach.
A man walks on Mt Maunganui Beach, with a container from the stricken Rena in the distance, Thursday October 13.
A man walks on Mt Maunganui Beach, with a container from the stricken Rena in the distance, Thursday October 13.
A woman walks past a container from the stricken Rena, washed up on Mt Maunganui Beach, Thursday October 13.
A woman walks past a container from the stricken Rena, washed up on Mt Maunganui Beach, Thursday October 13.
A container from the stricken Rena, washed up on Mt Maunganui Beach, Thursday October 13.
A container from the stricken Rena, washed up on Mt Maunganui Beach, Thursday October 13.
Oil washes up on Papamoa Beach.
Oil washes up on Papamoa Beach.
WAITING COLLECTION: Scores of bags full of oil await collection in Papamoa.
WAITING COLLECTION: Scores of bags full of oil await collection in Papamoa.
LOADING: Bags full of oil are collected from the beach at Papamoa.
LOADING: Bags full of oil are collected from the beach at Papamoa.
CLEAN-UP: Papamoa beach is covered with oil sludge
CLEAN-UP: Papamoa beach is covered with oil sludge
SPOILED: Papamoa beach is covered in oil
SPOILED: Papamoa beach is covered in oil
CRIPPLED: A wandering albatross covered in oil in Tauranga
CRIPPLED: A wandering albatross covered in oil in Tauranga
SOILED: Oil blobs at the Maketu shoreline
SOILED: Oil blobs at the Maketu shoreline
CLEAN-UP: Volunteers collecting oil sludge from the beach at Papamoa
CLEAN-UP: Volunteers collecting oil sludge from the beach at Papamoa
CLEAN-UP: Volunteers help clean up the oil from the beach at Papamoa
CLEAN-UP: Volunteers help clean up the oil from the beach at Papamoa
COVERED: A bird lies dead on Mt Maunganui beach today.
COVERED: A bird lies dead on Mt Maunganui beach today.
Tauranga resident Chris Munro on Mt Maunganui beach, Wednesday morning.
Tauranga resident Chris Munro on Mt Maunganui beach, Wednesday morning.
Environment Minister Nick Smith (centre) and Transport Minister Steven Joyce (right) at a public meeting in Tauranga to discuss the unfolding disaster.
Environment Minister Nick Smith (centre) and Transport Minister Steven Joyce (right) at a public meeting in Tauranga to discuss the unfolding disaster.
DEBRIS: Oil residues on Omanu beach at the 5 1/2 km beach entry point, Tuesday morning. Photographer Todd Murdoch says: 'I could smell the oil close to my house which is located 1km back from the beach.'
DEBRIS: Oil residues on Omanu beach at the 5 1/2 km beach entry point, Tuesday morning. Photographer Todd Murdoch says: 'I could smell the oil close to my house which is located 1km back from the beach.'
CASUALTY: One of the penguins that died following the oil spill. This was found at Papamoa just after high tide today.
CASUALTY: One of the penguins that died following the oil spill. This was found at Papamoa just after high tide today.
UNSURVIVABLE: A bird that has been washed up on the beach, coated in oil.
UNSURVIVABLE: A bird that has been washed up on the beach, coated in oil.
LONG JOB: Volunteers help clean up the oil from the beach at Mt Maunganui.
LONG JOB: Volunteers help clean up the oil from the beach at Mt Maunganui.
Oil on the beach near Mount Maunganui.
Oil on the beach near Mount Maunganui.
Sunny, 9 years, with his dead fish on Mt Maunganui beach.
Sunny, 9 years, with his dead fish on Mt Maunganui beach.

Andrew Berry, of the Marine Pollution Response Service, told a packed meeting at Papamoa College this afternoon that it appeared the cracks on either side of the ship had now joined.

All that was holding the Rena together was its position on the reef and some internal structure, Berry said.

It comes as the Philippine embassy released a statement this afternoon expressing its sadness over the Rena's grounding and the unfolding oil spill that occurred in the days that have followed.

RUBBISH DUMP: Motiti Island kaumatua Graham Hoete surveys the bay where bundled plastic waste has washed ashore.
RUBBISH DUMP: Motiti Island kaumatua Graham Hoete surveys the bay where bundled plastic waste has washed ashore.

Phillipine Minister and Consul Giovanni Palec arrived in Tauranga on Wednesday and is still in the city.

He has met with the crew, who told him they have been treated kindly and fairly by New Zealand authorities.

The 19 Filipino crew members left the country after they were interviewed and had their statements taken.

"The Filipino people fully understand what the people of New Zealand, especially those in the Tauranga communities are going through right now," the statement said.

The embassy said reports of the Filipino community being harassed in Tauranga were "not reflective of the general sentiments of the public in Tauranga".

Calmer weather off Tauranga has today raised hopes that oil can soon be pumped out from the Rena, with Prime Minister John Key today saying salvage teams have taken a "positive step" forward.

Teams worked throughout the night, building platforms to attach to the cargo ship to help recovery operations.

The ship was now sitting on the reef, and divers were in the water surveying the damage.

The back half of the ship had previously been sitting in about 50 meters of water, a Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) spokesperson said.

"I think it is a very positive step forward, but I wouldn't underestimate all the challenges," Key said. "The weather is working well for us at the moment, swells are reducing."

Environment Minister Nick Smith said removing the oil remained the Government's No 1 priority and hoped it would take place in the coming days.

"When we've got the ship's machinery down that means that the normal heating of this oil makes it the viscosity of Marmite and that makes it hard work to be able to pump off board.

"Specialist pumps have been brought from Sydney to enable that specialist work to take place."

However, oil would not be pumped from the Rena during today's salvage operation, said MNZ's Bruce Anderson.

Salvage teams worked throughout the night to build platforms intended to attach to the Rena, which is currently leaning by over 22 degrees, to help with fuel recovery operations.

He said the team was likely to spend today setting equipment up and may gain access to the tanks in order to lower their pumps into them.

"We shouldn't anticipate any pumping of oil today."

The operation was "complexity on top of complexity".

The first step would be trying to get access to the tanks by unbolting hatch covers. The second option would be to cut into it.

Key said the Government was still considering compensation for people losing money due to the oil spill, but a decision has yet to be made.

"I'm not ruling it in, but I'm clearly not ruling it out. We just need to asses what the full impact on them is and what capacity they have to mitigate any losses."

The local Chamber of Commerce had contacted Christchurch to ask what plans worked and how effective they were," he said.

"In the fullness of time we'll be working through those requests and looking through the normal process."

WHAKATANE BRACES FOR OIL

Clean-up teams are being prepared in Whakatane for oil washing up there from the stricken ship Rena.

More than 350 tonnes of oil has spilled into the ocean since the 47,000-tonne cargo ship grounded on the Astrolabe Reef off the Tauranga coast on October 5.

The oil has coated beaches and killed more than 1000 birds.

Maritime NZ (MNZ) director Catherine Taylor said less oil had come ashore overnight "though we do know it is moving eastwards and there are reports of it moving beyond Maketu for the first time."

There had been reports of oil on Whale Island but this had not been confirmed.

Mt Maunganui beach was cleaner this morning however, after it and other western Bay of Plenty beaches suffered a large tide of oil and flotsam yesterday.

The captain and second officer of the Rena were no longer involved in the salvage operation, Anderson said.

"One of the key things about those individuals - they were on board in the early stages - is that they know the ship's systems. They became quite important in assisting salvors. They were doing a great job but they won't be going on the vessel in this state," he said.

Salvors would remain on the boat for as long as was safe, with aircraft on standby to remove them if necessary.

The Rena's stern had settled on the reef which was "good news" and a dive survey would be carried out this morning to see if it was sitting on a platform or a pinnacle of Astrolabe Reef.

The incident control centre, inside a disused supermarket in Tauranga, was opened to media for the first time this morning.

Two hundred and twenty people were working in separate silos inside. Whiteboards, laptops and telephones littered the large open-plan area with a constant hum of noise from workers.

The centre was manned from 6am til 9.30pm.

VOLUNTEERS START WORK

The first army of white-suited volunteers was skimming oil-soaked sand from Bay of Plenty beaches today.

More than 2500 volunteers have registered with the clean-up operation, with about 100 people showing up at the Omanu Beach Surf Club this morning ready to get their gloved-hands dirty.

The volunteers received a briefing, which included tips such as not overloading the garbage bags, and suited-up before heading into the field in unimogs.

MNZ has estimated about 10,000 tonnes of oily sand would be scooped up during the clean up. So far they have collected about 95 tonnes.

CONTAINER CORRAL

Containers drifting in the sea were being moved towards Motiti Island.

Of 88 containers reported missing from the ship, 35 have been identified and 14 have been recovered.

The salvage company, Svitzer, was responsible for collecting the containers in the water.

A spokesman said it intended to take some of them towards Motiti Island, about 7km from the ship, to later collect them.

Other containers would be moved to other locations, which have yet to be identified, he said.

"Our priority at the moment is to stop them from drifting in the open sea.

"We have a plan in place with vessels to find where they are and intercept them.

"Motiti Island was identified as a logical place where some of the containers would be marshalled."

He said once recovered from the water, the containers would be sent to another company, which will decide to either clean or scrap them.

'WORST WEEK'

Environment Minister Nick Smith arrived back in Tauranga this morning, flying over the stricken ship and stretch of beach where oil continued to wash ashore.

Smith called the week the worst "for any environment minister."

"We pride ourselves on our clean green environment and the last thing we want to see is our beaches covered in oil."

Smith said he had confidence in the response to the disaster.

The team was doing everything it could to minimise the damage to the environment.

"But there are no perfect answers here."

He would be briefed on the current plans this morning.

"The emphasis today is going to be very much on whether it's going to be possible to recover the remaining 1300 tonnes of oil from the Rena."

Smith said the damage looked worse from the ground than the air.

APOLOGY 'FALLS SHORT'

Costamare Shipping Company managing director Diamantis Manos, whose company manages the Rena, yesterday apologised by video to Tauranga residents and New Zealanders for the "disastrous event".

Prime Minister John Key said he was pleased Rena's owners had apologised - but it wasn't enough.

"We are obviously pleased that they have apologised, that is important. But at the end I want answers as to why the ship crashed on the reef. This is a significant issue for New Zealand."

Tauranga mayor Stuart Crosby also felt the apology fell short, by about the length of an international plane flight.

"I'd prefer to see the owner come to New Zealand, come to our city and then apologise - to stand up in front of us," he said. "That's my immediate reaction - that would be the right and proper thing to do."

Rena's navigation officer was freed on bail after appearing in the Tauranga District Court yesterday.

Like his captain, he faced charges under section 65 of the Maritime Act for "operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk".

Both were to reappear in court on October 19.

Meanwhile, Port of Tauranga said it was running as normal again this morning, after a temporary shutdown overnight.

The port delayed marine operations between 9pm and 6am to recover containers and debris from the Rena that has been found in its shipping channels.

- PALOMA MIGONE, MICHELLE COOKE and KIRSTY JOHNSTON