Rena captain pleads guilty on all charges

Captain of the Rena cargo ship has pleaded guilty to all charges. He faces a maxium fine of $300,00 and/or two years in jail.

Captain of the cargo ship, which grounded on a Tauranga reef last year, has pleaded guilty to all charges put against him.

The captain, who currently still retains name suppression, has pleaded guilty today at the Tauranga District Court to charges that were laid under the Maritime Transport Act, Resource Management Act and Crimes Act and has been convicted.

The Rena cargo ship hit and grounded itself on the Astrolabe Reef in October last year, spilling containers and vast amounts of oil into the water, killing a huge number of native wildlife in and around the region.

The ship’s navigation officer who also currently has his name suppressed also appeared in the Tauranga District Court today, pleading guilty to a charge laid under the Maritime Transport Act and a further three Crimes Act charges in relation to illegally altering the ship’s documents.

Rena’s navigation officer is yet to enter a plea on a Resource Management Act charge.

Both men face similar charges which include charges under the Maritime Transport Act 1994 for operating a vessel in a manner likely to cause danger, under the Resource Management Act 1991 for discharging a contaminant, and on three charges under the Crimes Act for altering ship documents.

Crimes Act penalties each carry a maximum penalty of seven years' imprisonment.

The Resource Management Act charge is under sections 338 (1B) and (15B) which relate to the :discharge of harmful substances from ships or offshore installations," which carries a maximum penalty fine of $300,000 or two years imprisonment, with a further $10,000 for every day the offending continues.

The Maritime Transport Act carries a maximum penalty of $10,000 or a maximum imprisonment sentence of one year.

Sentencing for the captain is scheduled to occur on May 25 at the Tauranga District Court, with the navigation officer appearing three days earlier on May 22 at the same court where more please are expected to be made.