Crane successfully lifted from sea bed after complex salvage operation

A complex salvage operation has ended successfully in Wellington.

Civil Contractors were working on CentrePort's Seaview Wharf in Lower Hutt, when a 25-tonne crane fell into the sea on October 2.

After 17 days underwater, the crane's cab was finally lifted from the sea bed on Saturday - the silt it amassed at the bottom of the ocean falling away.

It marks the end of a lengthy and complex salvage operation.

"We've taken the time to plan it and do it right, and do it safely," said Andrew Steele, CentrePort Ferries & Bulk general manager.

Someone was sitting in the cab at the time it fell into the water, but he managed to jump out before it hit the water.

"He wasn't hurt which is the main thing for us," said Steele.

Divers used cutting torches underwater to detach and recover its boom last week.

But a 350-tonne crane was needed to lift the smaller crane - and that could only be done on the other side of Wellington Harbour at CentrePort's main wharf.

"The view was, the best place to do it is here, there's deep water straight below us," said Steele.

To make sure the cab didn't do any damage to the seafloor, three deflated airbags were attached to it, they were then inflated, lifting it off the seabed.

On Saturday morning, the floating cab was dragged around the edge of Wellington Harbor to avoid shipping lanes - a four-hour journey to CentrePort's central city wharf.

"The last thing we wanted was for something to go wrong and for shipping to be impacted," Steele said.

But the operation was successful - and with the help of two cranes it was lifted onto a flatbed truck for removal.

CentrePort's investigation into how the crane fell into the sea  should be complete within two weeks.