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Stricken ship's Master arrested as containers topple in Rena Disaster

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World on 12 Oct 2011
MV Rena grounded on Astrolabe Reef, Tauranga. She is beam on to four metre seas. The protruding section of the reef can be seen in the white water to the right of the shot New Zealand Defence Force

There have been three significant developments in the Rena Disaster.

Seventy containers have fallen off the ship overnight as she continues to be pounded by 4-5 metre seas off Tauranga. More expected to come off as the adverse weather continues. The containers stacked in the stern, which have broken free were earlier said to be empty.

The Rena's Master has been arrested and appeared in the Tauranga District Court at 1000hrs, Wednesday morning (NZT). On Wednesday evening it was announced that the second officer, who was in charge of the navigational watch of the vessel Rena, is facing one charge laid by Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) under section 65 of the Maritime Transport Act (MTA) 1994, 'for operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk'.

He will appear in the Tauranga District Court at 10am on Thursday 13 October.

The issue of hull deformation is advised by those who flew over the Rena, this morning, and it was seen for the first time. By early afternoon it was reported to have split open amidships, and moves were being made to try and prevent the stern breaking off completely.

The breaking up of the Rena is not unexpected and was predicted in a story in Sail-World on Sunday evening http://www.sail-world.com/UK/Predicted-heavy-winds-could-trigger-container-ship-trigger-breakup/89405!Click_here that this would happen today, Wednesday.








A statement issued this morning by Maritime NZ reads:

The Master of the vessel Rena has been arrested and charged by Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) under section 65 of the Maritime Transport Act (MTA) 1994, 'for operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk'.

He will appear in the Tauranga District Court this morning (Wednesday 12 October).

One s65 MTA charge has been laid, but it is likely more charges may follow.

The s65 charge carries a maximum penalty of $10,000, or a maximum term of imprisonment of 12 months.

MNZ will make no further comment while the matter is before the courts.



There is no further information on more oil release, after 350 tonnes were reported to have been released yesterday.

According to www.predictwind.com!Predictwind the winds will increase today, Wednesday, before easing, however the large swells will stay in until Thursday before easing slightly. The incident has been declared to be the biggest maritime environmental disaster in NZ's history. Outflow of oil increased tenfold today with up to 350 tonnes being released from the ship.

In an earlier release Maritime NZ advised that shipping had been re-routed.


Approximately 70 containers have come off the Rena and are now in the water.

It is highly likely that more will come off due to the current severe weather conditions and the vessel’s heavy list.

Once an aerial survey is completed, there will be a clearer picture of exactly how many containers have come adrift. This aerial survey will go ahead today once the weather has cleared and the sea conditions have improved.

There are 1368 containers on board. Eleven containers containing hazardous substances are still on the vessel and are not among the 70 estimated overboard.

Navigational warnings have been issued to mariners and major shipping has been re-routed.

Containers are likely to wash up on the beaches and if you see any, please call 0800 OIL SPILL (645 774).

The contents of the containers remain the property of the owners. It is an offence to take any property from the containers and anyone doing so can expect to be prosecuted.


Last Wednesday the 236 metre container ship, Rena, hit the Astrolabe Reef just off Tauranga harbour New Zealand. She was traveling at 17knots, when she hit the well-known reef at 2.20am.

She has stuck fast with her bow in the reef. A massive salvage operation is getting underway some five days after the incident.

Rena has 1700 tonnes of fuel oil aboard and if this is released into the pristine coastal area it will be the most serious environmental disaster in New Zealand's history.


After the first day of a storm onshore seas have caused the Rena to shift, and come more upright. While the authorities claim that this is a result of rock crushing below her bow, it may also be further crushing of the ships hull - depending on which is the more sacrificial surface. As expected more oil was released from either cracked bow tanks (which are being pumped aft) or from the keel duct which contains 100 tonnes of oil which cannot be accessed by the salvage team.

The amount of oil now released (370 tonnes) exceeds the amount previously stated to be in the keel duct, indicating that a fuel tank may have been ruptured.

It was stated this morning that bringing a floating crane from Singapore to offload containers would take a month. There is no crane in NZ with sufficient height to get to the top of the container stack. It would seem that Mother Nature is doing what Man cannot.

The salvage team has now set up a permanent base in a vacant supermarket, with about 200 people on site on a single floor, with the expectation that this recovery operation will take several months, rather than weeks.

More images can be viewed by http://www.stuff.co.nz/5736817/Rena-stuck-on-Astrolabe-Reef!clicking_here



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