Comments about technological history, system fractures, and human resilience from James R. Chiles, the author of Inviting Disaster: Lessons from the Edge of Technology (HarperBusiness 2001; paperback 2002) and The God Machine: From Boomerangs to Black Hawks, the Story of the Helicopter (Random House, 2007, paperback 2008)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Rena's Box Score: Storms set the pace

There are hints that a newly invigorated container removal effort at the MV Rena, still grounded off New Zealand, may not have much longer to operate. 

Rena's hull is seriously cracked and likely to finish breaking in two if the weather gets bad enough. It's amazing to me that it's still in one piece at all, given that the bow has been on the rocks for more than two months while the stern remains afloat, defying tides and ocean swells.

And storms. A 30-knot storm, with 13-foot waves, is forecast for the weekend. It'll be rough if anybody's working inside:
The crane-carrying barge Sea Tow 60 has stopped trying to lift containers, moving aside for the heavy lifter Smit Borneo. Here's a picture of Borneo on its way to the port of Tauranga, NZ, taking waves in stride:
Borneo has since arrived at Rena's location. It was lifting six containers at a time with the pedestal mounted 500-ton boom, but heavy weather and then a mechanical issue suspended the crane work. Here's containerized cargo arriving on shore:
Here's the current box score ... Out of 1,368 containers on board when the ship hit Astrolabe reef:
  • Still on board, mostly below deck: 1,072
  • Fell off and whereabouts unknown: 65
  • Fell off, but rounded up: 25
  • Removed by crane: 206
Containers are still breaking away. I'll post another note after the storm passes.

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