October 2011: OP RENA Support
OP RENA has shown how the NZDF and in particular the Navy can respond and assist in a maritime disaster off the coast of NZ.
Being an ex-regular GLX and currently in the NGA(TAU) unit of the Navy Reserves I had the opportunity to join HMNZS MANAWANUI for a few days patrolling the exclusion zone for Maritime NZ.
I found myself flying out to MANAWANUI on an air force helicopter with the salvage crew embarked. After a practice winch at Tauranga airport we flew out over the coast towards RENA. The situation was serious and the cabin quiet as we surveyed the coast below us and the oil slick extending out to sea off Papamoa beach. A container was spotted washed up along the coast. The scene was quite airy and almost surreal on approach to RENA. We circled, hovered, and the salvage crew were winched onto RENA just aft of the bow onto the top of some 40 foot containers leaning precariously to starboard.
I was then winched onto MANAWANUI. We spent the day providing command support to salvage operations, controlling the transit and entry of vessels into the exclusion zone.
Image Right: SLT Morgan on board Manawanui as part of OP RENA.
I would like to thank CO MANAWANUI, the command team and ships company for the opportunity to embark and help out over the following days.
In his civilian employment Dr Morgan is a Marine Biologist at the School of Applied Science, Bay of Plenty Polytechnic.
Image Above: The salvage crew are winched down to MV RENA.
Image Above: MV RENA and support vessels as seen during winching operations.