Member log in

Rena: 88 containers overboard but vessel still intact

UPDATED FRIDAY: Salvage teams have worked overnight to build a platform they will attach to the port side of Rena today to help with fuel recovery operations.

Two teams of three people have been winched on to the vessel this morning but evacuation teams are on standby to evacuate them if necessary.

Maritime New Zealand says there is a strong wind warning advisory in place and the westerly is expected to increase to 25-30 knots, this may hamper salvage operations.

88 containers have been reported to have fallen off the ship. 20 of these have come ashore.

The salvage company, Svitzer is responsible for collecting the containers in the water. They report they have identified 35 of these, and 14 have been recovered.

UPDATED 3.45pm: Maritime New Zealand says 88 containers from the floundering cargo ship Rena have been lost from the vessel, one containing the stable but hazardous material ferrosilicon.

The public are being warned to stay away from washed-up containers and report them to the Fire Service. A number have been observed floating in Tauranga harbour and a recovery operation is underway.

MNZ said in a statement that over a thousand people had volunteered to help with the cleanup: "Which is really heartening, as it shows just how deeply the people of the Bay of Plenty care about their environment This is hard physical labour and the fact that people are continuing to volunteer is appreciated."

Diamantis Manos, managing director of Costamare Shipping Company S.A., the registered owner of Rena, has issued a video message to the people of New Zealand. View it here.

UPDATED 11.30am: The Port of Tauranga has outlined possible scenarios under which the Rena disaster could close the Port, but says such an event is unlikely.

In a statement Port of Tauranga say containers or oil drifting in trade lanes, or its tugs being required by Maritime New Zealand to perform emergency duties could restrict entry and exit from the Port.

The Port said measures taken to reduce the likelihood of closure occurring including sweeping shipping lanes with specialised sonar equipment to scan for containers, and MNZ were monitoring the oil slick.

"We envisage that if we were requested to provide tug assistance, this would be for a short term duration only. Already there are tugs here from Auckland, Napier and Taranaki available to provide immediate assistance," the statement said.

"It is our considered opinion that if any of the above scenarios were to occur, it is unlikely that the Port would be closed for an extended period."


9am: Tugs from the Ports of Auckland and Port of Napier are standing by at the Rena grounding as fears mount it will be broken up by pounding seas.

The three tugs were nearby all night as a large crack widened on Rena’s starboard side. Video coverage shows the rear half of the heavily laden container ship moving up and down in the swell.

In other developments:
• Stormy conditions that prevented salvage work yesterday have eased.
• Tugs will attempt to drag all or part of the ship free.
• Rena’s second officer has been charged and will appear in court.
• Volunteers are being sought to help in a cleanup of oil spilled on beaches

The latest report from Maritime New Zealand says conditions have not appeared to have changed overnight though the weather is calmer.

The first observation flights have been made and attempts will be made to lower members of the salvage team on to the ship to see whether removal of the fuel oil can continue.

A substantial part of the ship's fuel has leaked from ruptured tanks, while an unknown number of containers have fallen off.

One of the tugs is attached to the 47,000 tonne ship by ropes while the other two are roving around it.

In comments reported last night, Transport Minister Steven Joyce said the ship had clearly started breaking up and the biggest fear was it would sink where it was currently located.

''The worst case scenario is it sinks where it is because that water is quite deep and it will get quite a lot harder to get access to the oil and salvage it,” he said.

''They've got tugs out on the water...if the ship starts to break up they're going to try and hold the stern on the reef because that will be an easier place to do the salvage of the oil from.

''If they are unable to do that....then they will look to try and guide it to shallower water which, again, they can have access to should it sink. They need to get it to water of about 50m deep or less to be able to do that.''

Maritime NZ says the Rena’s second officer in charge of the navigational watch has been charged under s65 of the Maritime Transport Act "for operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk."

The Filipino captain appeared in court yesterday also facing charges under the same act covering dangerous activity involving ships or maritime products.

He was remanded and granted interim name suppression. Some reports say the date of birth on the charge sheet was October 5, the same day as the Rena hit the Astrolabe reef.

Local volunteers are being called to help the 80 Defence Force members who are running a major cleanup of beaches affected by bunker oil that has come ashore.

Eye witnesses say there is a heavy stench over the whole area this morning. Volunteers need to be trained in the handling of the toxic sludge.

Rena is a 236m cargo vessel, which was carrying 1368 containers and was en route from Napier to Tauranga, when it hit Astrolabe Reef, offshore from Tauranga,  on Wednesday last week.

The ship, a Flag of Convenience (FoC) vessel, is Greek owned and registered in Liberia. FoC is a shipping method where owners register vessels in countries with very low regulation of the shipping industry.

Comments and questions

In yesterday's Herald, "more doey, less Hui", concerning delays in trying to pump out the oil

Read the "Get Some Perspective" article in the Dom Post - some actual factual reporting instead of the mindless drivel of most media. In part: the oil "is like tar, and it is not possible to just pump out 1700tones (1.7 million litres) of tar from the bunker tanks without heating, special pump arrangments and heated pipes. even with the right gear it would take a very long time. The ship only heats a small amount at a time for daily use, the rest is store in different parts of the ship. It is not in just one tank."

Hard times in Tauranga but NO ONE HAS DIED!
Lets stop the beat up comparisons to Pike River and Christchurch - nothing compares to the suffering there - this is not even close. Lets also remember that the cause of this is the crew somehow steering the ship onto the reef - not the act of a government department of minister. I heard a comparison that "They were too slow into Pike river and were too slow with the Rena" The facts per the Royal commission are that an early reentry to Pike River would have cost more lives. There was no barge capable of taking the oil off the Rena in Tauranga and that caused the delay - ask Ports of Tauranga why this was the case.Glad the media is not leting that facts get in the way of a good story!

There was a ship capable of doing that in AK and it was there within a day of being requested!!!! Provided the oil was heated it could have been extracted in a day yet 4 perfect days were wasted before that shaip was ordered. All the twisting of facts in teh worlsd are not going to change the fact that this mess was preventable on a number of levels.

To Snake in the Grass. check out the Dom Post for a reasoned, informed perspective on the Rena.

The three tugs are the Ports of Auckland tug the Waka Kume, the Port of Napier tug thee Ahuriri and a Swires (shipping company) tug.

POT general manager said on ZB this morning whilst it was "heartwrenching" as a resident, fisherman and the manager of the port he believed the Govt and all the authorities had moved as fast as possible. Nothing could have been done any quicker. BUT you can bet your cotton jock Labour will try to use this as a political football.

Agree - the amount of potential political fodder here will be enormous as Labour / Greens attempt to blame everything on National / JK because they 're in government and Labour / Greens aren't.

Politicians need to be very careful not to try and hyjack this trajedy and the missery of the BOP locals to suit their own political ends - as it will only serve them an own goal. Let's just waqtch Goof open his mouth to change feet though.

And for all the armchair critics who are suddenly world experts in ocean salvage - please get your facts and information right before spouting Labour party rhetoric about how it's all National's fault - as it only undermines your own credibility.

No one wants this to have happened and everyone would much prefer for no environmental damage at all - however it has happened - probably because some Union member wharfie didn't do their job correctly with inspecting the seaworthiness of this vessel before allowing it to leave port - so really the only people to blame are the likes of the Maritime Union & Labour for encouraging their members for mediocre performance in carrying out their duties.

Blame the Maritime Unions - as they're the ones responsible for ensuring vessels operate at prescribed minimum operational standards.

Unions (and therefore Labour) have a lot to answer for here - and probably why they're trying to deflect unwanted attention onto the current government.

To be fair, it was not the sea worthiness of the ship that is the issue? This looks to be a case of poor seamanship?? Running into a reef at full cruising speed... But this is just my opinion - I am not an expert like Crowd Pleaser

No disagreement there, you completely lack expertise.

Since when were wharfies qualified to inspect ships for seaworthiness?

You're confusing Maritime NZ (the govt dept who employ engineers to inspect ships) and the Maritime Union (who represent the sailors).

The public are not fools, for all the scrabbling by the National machine to try and cover their tracks. Nothing was done in those crucial first few days and yet again the government has been found wanting. Smiling and waving could not hold back the tide of oil and nor will it hold back the tide of public opinion.

Another Royal Commission of Enquiry; and the lawyers and judges rub their hands with glee

Why is it up to "the Government"??? The fault lies squarely on the ship's owners. Quite rightly Government needed to see if the owners were going to do something about their mess. It is exactly the same as an oil spill in a work yard.

I realise that it has an environment impact (and I HATE pollution) but realistically if shipping companies know that the New Zealand government will just step in and clean up, then they woudl send even less seas-worthy vessels into our territorial waters.

It's about time New Zealanders stopped sitting around and expecting "the Government" to do everything. How about mobilising their views and putting pressure on the shipping company??? Shipping companies are worth billions. Get them to pay up and put their name in the media all over the world. Do the majority of you even know which company owns the Rena.

Crowd Pleaser

At it again with all the recycled garbage of nothing done in the first few days. Look at the publicly available info here for what was done

Read Digby's comment above about the need to heat the fuel to be able to pump it.
The barge they have to unload the oil was full on the first day and had to go to Whangarei to unload first before it got down there. ( yes I know some Akl company has some inflatable barges but did they have all they the heatable pipes etc to transfer any thing ?)
This a terrible accident and I doubt anything would have been done much differently if Labour was in power because they would listened to the same bureaucrats.

Good grief Ross your a tad naive arent you? Of course maritime nz are going to say everything was done that could be done - they are in the firing line for Pete's sake! No good looking for answers there, they will be covering their asses at a fierce rate of knots.

This is a debacle and frankly the pathetic attempts by National supporters to defend the indefensible are nauseating. The damage has been done (or is in the process of being done).

If MarinetimeNZ is putting out false information then yes I'd expect some very heavy repercussions. But Crowd Pleaser you are the naive one if you think those bureaucrats are going to expose themselves so publically with false information because you are right on one point --they will cover the rear ends where they can , but they would not do it with publically available information like this.

if only Chris Carter was still environment minister - none of this would have happened.

Yes, it would've. And he'd be directing the salvage op from the table of a Parisienne restaurant.

Not silly

I am one calling for faster action.I think some decisive calls early on could have mitigated at least some of the damage. Time will tell - no doubt there will be a ministerial enquiry.

Any blame however would fall with maritime nz, not the govt. MNZ are the 'expert'. Govt involvement would just slow things up. In the first few days the govts only involvement should have been to guarantee the cost so MNZ could act quickly.

In the meantime lets enjoy John Key and his smile and wave leadership!

This article printed LAST WEEK (on the 7th) in an expert publication was already detailing how slow the response had been and how available equipment WAS NOT BEING USED and how TIME WAS RUNNING OUT:

That article was then followed up a few days later by this one highlighting that the inadequate response continued:
You will see from both articles that Lancer technology is widely used and was used previously in NZ.

Hey you know the difference between Light Fuel oil and HFO? Dumbest expert on earth or water???

Just wait for this weekends photo shoot for John Key and fellow MP's holding his hand helping with the clean up

This strategy might have worked with the CHCH earthquake and Pike River but it won't here
The backlash on this disaster which was man made ( the boat captain and Government inaction ) is going to be huge and not needed by National during an election campaign

To be fair to Maritime NZ and other Govt. agencies, don't expect to see them get moving until after the initial hand-wringing. And that usually takes a few days.

I wasn't going to comment on the response issue but I will.

Some practical notes.

HFO needs to be heated to between about 77 to 127 degrees celcius before it will flow.

Temperatures lower than that means it turns into tarry sludge.

It also means that the receiving vessel needs heating coils in it's tanks to maintain that temperature as if it doesn't then it is impossible to get the congealed HFO out of receiving tanks.

The Lancer barges do not have heating systems. So while HFO could have been loaded into them I am not sure if the temperature of the HFO could have been maintained. Remeber the Rena is some distance from the port of Tauranga so the HFO would cool signifcantly while being towed from the Rena to where-ever the barges were being unloaded.

Lancer barges may be superb for light oils but not for heavy fuels such as HFO.

There is a suggestion that the vessels own pumps could pump the HFO into the barge.

This is not so. A separate pump needed to be fitted and other major engineering work completed before discharge of the HFO could be considered. A colleague who is involved in heavy marine engineering suggested that 4 days would have been well used doing the neccessary work to enable discharge.

Yes yes yes, thats all very well, but I'm still shocked to find that neither key nor joyce had these holding tanks or oil heating pumps installed in their limos for this exact purpose.

This would obviously never be allowed to happen under a goff lead labour gummint...

Mother nature will sort this shit out . Oil is an organic compound and the oil eating lowlife out there are in seventh heaven. In Christchurch,the estuary has had to swallow millions of liters of raw human sewerage ant the boffins are saying it will only be a temporary blip in the long term health of the ecosystem. As for Phil Goff in his shiny suit doing photo opportunities, holding hands with Yasser Arafat was pretty hard to beat.

All the hysteria will abate,the fear based reactive comment will soon be exhausted and we will simply don our boots and put it back to the way it was. I'll be swimming at Papamoa before you know it. So very very greatful to have so many experts in town to help lead us through this.( Remember to be good and generous hosts my fellow Mounties)

There are a number of small points here regarding the delays.
1. It has been reported by the Salvor that the ship had destroyed the crucial heating system pipes and oil pipelines when it ran on the reef.
2. Also the drive onto the reef was so complete that the reef punctured up through the hull to the extent that no amount of pulling will get the ship off in a straight pull. These pipes were repaired during those first 4 days before the bad weather arrived.
3. Then when salvaging a ship you DO NOT remove ANYTHING until you can be sure of the exact sequence required, which can include deliberately causing a list to free the ship or even a sequenced double twist to do so.
4. A modern ship is like paper when unsupported by the sea. It is best left floating as deep as possible until you are ready and everything is in place. Hence why no hasty unloading.

When the public hear comments such as the beaches cannot be cleaned up, because a safety management plan hasn’t been activated, is it any wonder why beaurcrats and politicians alike, are on the receiving end of public opprobrium? Heads should roll.

the voters of robert muldoon did more damage than the rena lets get a lynch mob happening

Greens, green-blues, big business, big labour unions, partying Phillipino ships captains ...

Whatta big cluster .... mess.