Experts put heads together over Tuhoe salvage effort video

KIRK HARGREAVES

The MV Tuhoe still sits aground on the south side of the Waimakariri River mouth.

Salvage crews will meet for two hours to decide how they will recover the stranded MV Tuhoe on Tuesday.

The 96-year-old ship was returning to its berth in the Kaiapoi River, after receiving more than $200,000 worth of repairs in Lyttelton, when it ran aground on a sandbar at the Waimakariri River mouth about 4pm Sunday.

MV Tuhoe Kaiapoi Riverton Trust chairman Philip Redmond said a surveyor had examined the ship and deemed the risk too great to try and save it. 

The MV Tuhoe still sits aground on the south side of the Waimakariri River mouth.
KIRK HARGREAVES/FAIRFAX NZ

The MV Tuhoe still sits aground on the south side of the Waimakariri River mouth.

Regional harbourmaster Jim Dilley said the ship's owners, insurance company, contractors and a salvage crew would meet with him at 8am on Tuesday to discuss how they could recover the damaged vessel. They would have a detailed plan by 10am.

Dilley, who did not know how the ship fared overnight, said on Monday the waves were moving the boat's stern, causing a twisting effect with the potential to break it in half.

If the ship had broken up overnight, it would ideally be salvaged in pieces during a daytime low tide.

Onlookers catch a glimpse of the stranded MV Tuhoe.
KIRK HARGREAVES/FAIRFAX NZ

Onlookers catch a glimpse of the stranded MV Tuhoe.

If it could be refloated, the best conditions would be a 4pm high tide so they could prepare it during the day. High tide on Tuesday was about 7am.

"If we take the worst case scenario and have to break it up on site and transport it out, it could take over a week.

"The damage we saw yesterday made it unsuitable to refloat yesterday and I imagine the damage would have got worse overnight," Dilley said.

The historic MV Tuhoe has become a tourist attraction of sorts since it ran aground at the Waimakariri River mouth.
STACY SQUIRES/FAIRFAX NZ

The historic MV Tuhoe has become a tourist attraction of sorts since it ran aground at the Waimakariri River mouth.

If the ship did break, machinery would be used to cut it into smaller pieces and take it away. 

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Oil and other pollutants such as cleaners and thinners had been removed, he said, although there was some oil left in the engine room.

The damage was not expected to get so bad the engine room would be compromised.

Dilley said a light sheen and dirty marks might be visible from where the the workers stood to remove the oil.  

"There is also a possibility there will be small pieces of timber floating in the water."

Redmond said crew members were shocked and distressed. Some had worked on the boat for more than 35 years.

"We are all devastated ... it's the worst day of my life."

Memorabilia such as the ship's steering wheel, photographs and life buoys had been removed from the ship. 

"We will still be able to share the history, we just won't have a ship to take people for cruises in.

"It's heartbreaking to get to this end." 

The MV Tuhoe has a long history of incidents. Since it was built in 1919, it has run aground four times. 

"It was nicknamed the lucky ship because it had survived this long, now its luck has run out," Redmond said.    

 - Stuff

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