These guys are tough

Contrary to the claims of Labour and the Greens there have been salvors about the MV Rena since very early on. Today in the Herald we get to hear just how precarious and dangerous their jobs are:

Far down in the engine-room, below five flights of bent ladders, the floor slopes sideways and is covered with oily muck.

It is pitch black except for the odd generator-powered light, just a faint glow amid the gloom.

The smell – a putrid mix of salty air, heavy fuel fumes and thawed, rotting food spilled from busted containers – is almost overpowering.

And the noise is terrifying.

The sounds of howling wind and crashing waves combine with a cacophony of creaks, bangs and groans of steel grinding on steel.

These of the death throes of the MV Rena, one of the most perilous wrecks that a world-renowned team of salvage experts have seen in their careers.

The severed hull grinds against itself as waves wash back and forth through slowly widening gashes in steel 18mm thick.

Pancaked rows of containers – many 12m long – tower high above, always threatening to crash down.

The salvors must keep their balance on a sideways, ever-swaying deck soaked in slippery oil and water.

Every few moments, another swell slams the hull, rocking it again.

Weighing heavily upon the salvors’ shoulders is the hope they will be able to pump away all of the oil still in the Rena’s tanks before the ship breaks up.

But first they must empty one port-side tank – and then try to get to the 356 tonnes in the tank on the other side.

With a five-day window of fine weather and a booster pump that managed to clear 171 tonnes by yesterday afternoon, there is optimism, but the job is dangerous.

“Everywhere, there’s risk at the moment,” said Svitzer Salvage master captain Drew Shannon, speaking exclusively to the Weekend Herald.

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