Divers want wreck left as an attraction - time sorts out most things!
By Dave Moran
It was only a matter of time before the unrelenting motion of the sea broke the Rena's back and dispatched it to the depths of Astrolabe's reef off New Zealand's North Island just south east of the port of Tauranga.
As we know the sea never sleeps and sometimes she gets grumpy!
When the Rena slammed into the reef at 17 knots on 5 October 2011 (see issue #127) an uncompromising chain of events was set in place. Just when these 'events' were to take place was unknown but as sure as the sun comes up in the morning we knew they would happen.
Her broken back split below the waterline on 31 December.
Then overnight on 9-10 January 2012, after being smashed by five metre swells, her stern section of approximately 156 metres slipped beneath the waves with only the jagged, torn mid-ship cargo section and the bridge's starboard observation wing waving a final farewell showing above the waves.
The reef stopped her decent at 67 metres.
I've heard it's an amazing dive! There is talk of removing the wreck completely off the reef! At what cost and who pays?
After the containers have been removed from the sunken stern section why not leave it there? Cutting a number of 'diver safety' holes in appropriate places throughout the stern will be a lot cheaper than cutting up the whole stern section over a number of years.
The wreck will create a long term tourist attraction.
Time will reveal what the government's final decision is re the fate of the container-barren wreck. Let's hope they make the right decision.
Dave Moran, Editor, Dive New Zealand magazine.
New Zealand Underwater Association (NZUA) calls for wreck to remain. Shane Wasik, President of the NZUA is calling for the Rena to be left as an artificial reef and diving attraction. The Rena has slipped down the reef but is unlikely to stay in her current position due to weather conditions at that location so it is too early to comment on her final suitability.
Her current position, lying on the reef slope, provides a range of depths for varying diver experience levels, ranging from those who want to explore the exterior in the shallower water, to technical divers penetrating the wreck's interior and deeper sections. Calls that the Rena would be 'dangerous' and 'kill divers' are misleading.
Divers are able to undertake specialist wreck diving courses designed to educate and train divers in differing equipment, techniques and planning to make exploration safer. It's very similar to tramping or mountaineering in that respect.
On an ecological front, due to Astrolabe's unique position, marine life will be quick to colonise the wreck and very soon it will act as an artificial reef, ranging from encrusting invertebrates covering the hull, to the many holes providing refuge for crayfish and the structure attracting many species of fish.
On a longer term outlook, this could develop into a very diverse and abundant ecosystem. The mess and detriment to the already damaged environment that would be caused by a long term salvage would be huge and the negatives of this outweigh any positives.
On a business front, the ailing local dive centres and charter boats would gain huge benefits, not only for local divers, but national and international enthusiasts that will travel to dive her. With the coverage being broadcast around the world, many divers would already have added her to their must do list.
Wrecks have huge tourism benefits around the world; consider the
Mikhail Lermontov here in New Zealand,
President Coolidge in Vanuatu,
Iron Bottom Sound in the Solomons,
Scapa Flow in Scotland, not to mention the wrecks that have been intentionally sunk as attractions, both in New Zealand and abroad. They bring economic benefits to many businesses and would be a great boost for tourism in Tauranga.
Many divers had already been contacting the association, and Shane himself, about the prospect of diving the Rena and also to express dismay at calls to remove the stern section from the reef. Shane has previously been in contact with the ship's owners and will also be following up with the relevant government departments. Any divers who have comments are able to get in touch via the web site:
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