June 25, 2019

MV Rena captain arrested – up to 70 containers lost overboard

The Captain of the MV Rena had better have good police protection in Tauranga. A lynch mob is not out of the question. Might have been safer to leave him on the ship.

The captain of the stricken container vessel MV Rena has been arrested and charged overnight and will appear in the Tauranga District Court this morning and faces a charge under section 65 of the Maritime Transport Act.

The charge under section 65 carries a maximum penalty of $10,000, or a maximum term of imprisonment of 12 months.

Meanwhile at least 30 containers and as many as 70 containers have fallen off the Rena overnight, after it began tilting at a much more precarious angle.

The ship was listing at 18 degrees – sparking a navigation warning about the possibility of falling and submerged containers – after being at 11deg for much of the past week.

Maritime New Zealand this morning confirmed the Navy ship Endeavour had reported the loss of the containers.

The agency’s Steve Jones told Radio New Zealand that some of the containers will float, some would submerge and some would sink.

He confirmed it was likely many would wash up ashore due to the strong winds.

Radio New Zealand earlier reported at least one of the containers on the ship that had been submerged contained ferrosilicon – which can be hazardous and flammable when it comes in contact with water.

However Maritime New Zealand later said the eleven containers containing hazardous substances are still on the vessel and are not among the up to 70 estimated overboard.

The Rena started moving in 4m swells yesterday – forcing an emergency evacuation of the crew – and a Maritime NZ spokesman said last night the agency was becoming “increasingly concerned” about the ship’s lean.

Hundreds of tonnes of oil leaked from the hull yesterday.

It emerged yesterday that on the day the Rena struck the reef, Maritime NZ declined an offer of two inflatable barges which could pump up to 100 tonnes of oil at a time.

The offer was made by Ronald Winstone, of Lancer Industries, who said the two barges would have easily emptied the ship of toxic oil in the four days of clear weather after the Rena ran aground.

“It would have taken them 17 trips to pump all the fuel off the ship and three or four days wouldn’t have been unrealistic for that to have happened.

“It doesn’t make sense why they didn’t start pumping the oil earlier when they had the equipment to do it.”

A Maritime NZ spokesman said Mr Winstone’s offer was logged with its operations division, and “if they needed it they would have followed it up”.

Just as well the response team from Maritime NZ was not in charge of the Pike River rescue or those miners would still be down there. They are still down there? Oh well maybe it is the common thread of free-market deregulation that is behind both catastrophies. The only thing the Rena oil spill has going for it over Pike River is that nobody died.