The appearance of a large rust-covered crane on Army Bay beach on May 5 was the result of recovery work that began a year ago.
The 25-ton mobile crane, valued at around $100,000, was being transported by barge from Opua to Auckland, when the barge rolled over and sank near Tiritiri Matangi Island.
It happened the day before last year’s level 4 lockdown, which prevented immediate salvage. The wreck was marked with a buoy and light.
The barge was re-floated using divers and towed back to Auckland at the end of April last year, but the crane remained underwater.
Auckland’s harbourmaster says at the time there was no barge or crane available big enough to lift it out and initially, the plan was to cut it up underwater and remove it in sections. However, once the work started it was discovered that the crane could be towed in one piece without any materials or oil discharging into the sea.
The crane is owned by Bellingham Marine. Project manager and head skipper Gavin McPherson says it is understood that the barge capsized because of leaking hatches on its deck – a rare occurrence.
He says it has been an expensive and disappointing exercise.
“It was really sad for us to lose the crane,” he says. “We’d only had it for a year and it was being used in building marinas and super yacht berths.”
Once the crane was brought up at Army Bay it took more than two days for a team to remove the boom and outriggers so it could be taken away by truck for scrap.