It was a lovely fine day at Astrolabe reef today, with gentle to moderate WSW winds sending the oil sheen well out to sea. The sheen is becoming thinner and much less noticeable now. Either because the ruptured fuel tank on the starboard side is now empty, or there is minimal wave action to cause turbulence in that ruptured tank. Whatever the reason, it is good news.
We were called in this morning to the port side of the Rena, adjacent to her bunker manifold (The pipework where she usually loads fuel) just forward of the accommodation. We came in close, stern first, to receive a messenger rope from them, which we connected to our 4" floating hose. This hose was then hauled up the side of the Rena using a small hand winch, then connected to the bunker manifold. We have remained in this location throughout the day and into the night and have received a grand total of 8.7 cubic metres of lube oil into one of our deck tanks. At this rate we will have to go back into port to refuel and take provisions, long before our cargo tanks are full.
The Awanuia is still connected at the stern of the Rena, so she is about 40 metres off our port bow. It would make one very impressive aerial photo, with 4 vessels and numerous rigid inflatable work boats, all in such close proximity. Divers were also again in operation today, on both the port and starboard sides, continuing their hull survey and hot tapping preparations.
Following on from my report yeserday, I googled "hot tapping" and came up with the following sites:
In addition to the dive operations and routine chopper flights, there was a chopper and water taxi full of "non salvage" junketeers, weilding numerous cameras. Not sure if they were press or Maritime NZ, but you can be sure that they did not spend too much time in the vicinity of the rotting freezer containers. Poor Mrs Mac deserves better than this.
It was very choppy when the water taxi was alongside the Rena, attempting to disembark his 4 passengers. Watching from the bridge, we were sure that at least one of them would end up in the drink. It was easy to see that they were not mariners and totally unused to boarding by pilot ladder. It didn't help that it was low tide also, which meant quite a reach to get to the bottom rung on the ladder. After lots of stuffing around, they eventually all boarded safely.
We have been advised that the container salvage reps were also on board and that they quoted a rate of removal of three containers per day and estimated that it would take a year to unload.
WTF! - that rate makes even the Brisbane wharfies look good.
Mother Nature will have it emptied for them long before a year is out. A summer cyclone will have it unloaded in less than 24 hours. I would be appalled if Maritime NZ signed up for that deal, as the crane barge due down to undertake the removal operation will be astronomically expensive. Think of them as tow truck drivers, then you will understand. The issue with unloading containers from within the holds, is that they are held in place by vertical, slotted cell guides, which enables an efficient and secure method of stowing the containers for transit by sea.
However, any containership mate will tell you, that the vessel has to be within 2 degrees of vertical, while loading or unloading the containers. Otherwise the containers jam in the cell guides, as the tolerances are so fine. So combine a 22 degree list, with the carnage in the holds caused by 17 knots of inertial impact with terra firma and you have a right royal clusterf@#k to try to unload.
It will certainly be a challenge, as is everything about this project so far. Consulting "Thomas Stowage" might not help in this instance.
That is all from Astrolabe Reef today.
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