Helicopters to remove pieces of Rena wreck
US salvors, Resolve, have been appointed to reduce the size of the bow of the wreck of the Rena, using helicopters to lift sections as they are cut.
Captain John Owen, senior claims manager with Rena insurer The Swedish Club, said Resolve's plan would allow the wreck to be reduced in a controlled and safe way.
"This is a very difficult and potentially dangerous location to conduct operations," he said.
The appointment of Resolve was announced today during a trip to Motiti Island by Athens-based Konstantinos Zacharatos, a director and legal counsel for Greek-owned company Costamare whose subsidiary Daina Shipping owned the Rena.
"The appointment of Resolve is the next important step in dealing with the issues arising from this regrettable incident," Zacharatos said.
"After the grounding in October last year we have been closely managing the work of our environmental agents (Braemar Howells) and salvors (Svitzer)."
Rena, a 236-metre-long Liberian-flagged cargo vessel, caused an environmental disaster after it struck Astrolabe Reef off Tauranga while travelling from Napier to Tauranga.
The condition of the wreck deteriorated, and on January 10 the position of the stern section of the Rena began to change significantly. Within about 90 minutes about 75 per cent of the stern was under water.
A spokesperson for the owners and insurers said Resolve already had people in the area, and the work of reducing the bow was expected to start in the next couple of weeks.
That job, cutting the bow section down to one-metre below the low tide mark, was expected to take six months, depending on factors such as the weather.
At the same time as work was under way on the bow, investigations would be carried out to determine what should be done with the rest of the ship, the spokesperson said.
On Monday, Zacharatos apologised for the disaster in a series of meetings involving Maori and officials and representatives from the Bay of Plenty.
It was also revealed the ship's owners and insurers had so far spent $200 million on the salvage operation, of which $70 million had been spent in the local economy.
The joint venture between salvage companies Smit and Svitzer completed its contractual arrangements more than a month ago, a month ahead of schedule. Its job was to remove all recoverable containers and oil from the Rena
Braemar Howells remained the environmental managers for the operation, the spokesperson said.