Salvage company says volunteers' contribution unprecedented, writes Nicola Brennan-Tupara.
The dangerous dismantling of the Rena is prompting calls from salvors all over the world who would converge on Tauranga if given the chance to be part of history.
Resolve Salvage master Francis Leckey told media gathered yesterday for the first anniversary of New Zealand's biggest maritime disaster that he was getting calls every day from people wanting to be part of it.
"For one thing, they've heard what a beautiful place you have here and the other part is because it's been one of the most publicised wreckage salvages.
"So a lot of salvors want to work on it. A lot love the challenge."
The Rena ran aground on the Astrolabe Reef on October 5 last year, resulting in New Zealand's worst environmental disaster.
Mr Leckey said the task of dismantling the Rena was very dangerous, and although it was achievable, if it was up to him he'd leave a lot of it there.
"Personally for a lot of the wreck to be left there, I think would've been a good thing," he said.
"Because wrecks are made all over the world for recreational divers and for fish."
He said removing the bottom part of the wreck was going to be extremely dangerous - and expensive - but was possible.
"They put a man on the moon, didn't they?"
Mr Leckey said the Rena salvage was the most expensive salvage he'd ever worked on and thought it might even be the most expensive in the world - possibly on a par with removing the Costa Concordia cruise ship, which capsized off the Tuscany coast.
He said the wreck was one of a kind due to the angle it occupied on the reef.
Like the bow, the stern section would have to be removed piece by piece.
Neil Lloyd, operations manager of salvors Braemar Howells, said the situation would be much worse had it not been for all the volunteer help.
He said the company had recovered 1000 containers, had located the ones that were yet to be salvaged and covered more than 400 kilometres of shoreline cleaning up debris.
"The presence of so many volunteers and their contribution has been quite unique in our international experience and we extend a big thanks to everyone who's worked with us, and played some part, big or small."
However, the job wasn't over yet and it could be another a year before operation was complete.
Maritime New Zealand yesterday warned that removal of the wreck could take another 12 to 18 months.
Maritime NZdirector Keith Manch said the Rena's owners, Daina Shipping, were legally required to remove the whole wreck.
Associate Minister of Transport and Tauranga MP Simon Bridges said the Rena disaster brought out the best in people.
"For me, personally, I will always see the Rena as a bad situation that none of us created, but that we have all had to deal with as best as possible in the circumstances."
At the peak of the clean-up, 8000 volunteers had registered to help.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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