Sensors on board the Rena have detected additional minor movement in the grounded ship following news two more containers were lost overboard.
However, Maritime New Zealand said there was no overall change to the vessel's fragile status after recent stormy weather. Rough seas had washed two more containers off the ship on Thursday night, taking the total overboard to 88, but the beleaguered vessel stayed in one piece. One damaged container carrying aluminium chairs had sunk, while another floating container, carrying 18 packets of timber and fitted with a transponder, had been recovered.
Neil Lloyd, New Zealand operations manager for container salvors Braemar Howells, said the floating container was recovered yesterday morning.
"We sent the [retrieval] vessel out within 30 minutes of it being lost," he said. The recovered container was being monitored and was to be towed into position near the crane barge ST60 which would then lift it from the sea on to its deck. It would be processed as usual at the port.
Braemar has also been retrieving debris, Mr Lloyd said. "People see us as the container operators but we are also shoreline. We've done a lot of operations on White Island and Motiti Island."
The mainly Welsh team at Braemar would work through the Christmas period to ensure the beaches remained safe and clean of debris, he said. "We'll still have our Christmas cheer on but we'll maintain the recovery of containers. We're a pretty close-knit team ... so we'll support each other. But certainly with the weather [on Thursday] it reminded us of home. We'll enjoy our New Zealand Christmas with you guys. It's not every year you have Christmas in New Zealand. We'll just take it as it comes."
A damaged cable on the crane barge Smit Borneo had been replaced but operations were still being hampered by bad weather. Soft mooring ropes connecting the Smit Borneo to the Rena had parted overnight Thursday because of the rough weather, the barge experiencing rolling of 6 degrees. The weather had peaked about 10pm Thursday with a combined sea state of 6m.
The patchy weather is set to continue over the next couple of days, with northeasterly winds of up to 40 knots (74km/h) expected to peak late today. Fine weather is forecast for tomorrow.
Yesterday's overflight of the Rena noted two distinct narrow tracks of rainbow sheen about 30m wide stretching up to 2km from the ship.
Container recovery facts
- Containers not yet recovered to port - 1079
- Containers estimated as lost overboard - 86
- Unlocated/unknown containers - 53
- Containers removed from Rena and recovered to port - 203
- Containers processed at Truman Lane - 38
- Recovered cargo from containers - 864 tonnes
- Re-used/recycled cargo - 84 tonnes