With the increase in activity at the site, as the salvage operation moves from oil recovery to discharge of the Rena’s containers, the Antipodean Mariner has cultivated new sources. Blogging will continue of the activities at Astrolabe Reef from the decks of the various craft now clustered around the inert hulk.
There was an incident on the barge ST-60 yesterday which made the media through more traditional sources. A personnel transfer basket (known on the salvage industry as a Billy Pugh) with three salvors aboard had to be dumped into the ocean after it developed an uncontrollable swing in the low swell.
The tops of the crane jibs are estimated to be moving in an arc of up to three metres in the gentle swells off Astrolabe Reef. The cranes temporarily fitted to the ST-60 are designed for a direct vertical static lift from a stable land-based platform and not the dynamic motion experienced on the barge.
Although their load rating may have been reduced, one observed fears that they will not cope with the task. The crane’s hook (or a forty foot container) developing an uncontrollable pendulum swing and striking the fragile latticework of the crane jib will have catastrophic consequences.
The crane barge ‘Smit Borneo’, which is on the way to Tauranga from Singapore, is purpose built for heavy lifting in a seaway and looks infinitely better equipped to handle the conditions. Hopefully, ST-60 can continue to support the salvage operation by receiving and shuttling the containers in to the Port of Tauranga.
This posting is not to taken as a criticism of the salvage operation but a reminder of the dangers faced every day by the Salvors using the resources they have in a dynamic environment.
The Antipodean Mariner
16th November 2011
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