Salvage crews have returned to the stricken container ship Rena, grounded off the coast of New Zealand since October 5.
Rough weather had forced the team to halt efforts to pump hundreds of tonnes of fuel from the ship. So far only a fraction has been recovered but the crew hopes to add more booster pumps to accelerate the recovery of the remaining 1,200.
The first job today though was to assess the damage from an overnight storm.
As helicopter hoist operator Simon Barton explains, conditions are far from ideal.
“It’s high risk out there. We’re winching into a very very tight area, and dealing with the wind and everything else that goes on out there,” he said. “But what we do, we do very slow and safe. We’ve got people on the end of the wire, and we’re put into a very tight area, and safety and human life is paramount.”
Some 350 tonnes of oil have already seeped into the ocean, killing 1,300 sea birds and staining beaches, making this New Zealand’s worst maritime environmental disaster.