Bloomberg News

N.Z. Salvagers Prepare for Worst as Stricken Ship Deteriorates

November 02, 2011

Nov. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Salvagers trying to recover oil from a stricken container ship off the northeastern coast of New Zealand say they are “preparing for the worst” after the vessel sustained further damage in rough seas.

The Greek-owned Rena was still holding together in one piece “for now,” according to a statement from Maritime New Zealand. Officials reported a further buckling of the vessel’s hull, which has already cracked.

“Rena held up well through the bad weather two weeks ago, but we may not be so fortunate this time,” Bruce Anderson, the agency’s salvage unit manager, said in the statement.

Salvagers have removed over 1,000 metric tons of oil from the Athens-based Costamare Shipping Co.’s vessel, the agency said. Cracks appeared in the hull last month, raising concern the ship may break apart after it ran aground on Oct. 5 near Tauranga, 100 miles (160 kilometers) southeast of Auckland.

Around 350 tons of oil remains on the ship’s starboard tank, according to the statement. Officials estimated that the same amount leaked into the ocean after Rena was grounded, blackening beaches and killing hundreds of birds.

Salvage efforts were suspended yesterday due to poor weather and conditions were expected to worsen by tonight, the statement said.

“We have always been at the mercy of the weather,” National On-Scene Commander Mick Courtnell said. “The possibility of the ship breaking up has always been on the cards.”

--Editors: Malcolm Scott, Edward Johnson

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Bourke in Wellington at cbourke4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Edward Johnson ejohnson28@bloomberg.net


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