Maritime NZ Update: Tue 11 Oct - Rena rotates through 25 degrees

Awanuia trying to get alongside the MV Rena - Astrolabe Reef, Tauranga. She has now rolled to starboard and listing over 50% more than her position in this image
The latest update from Maritime NZ on the Rena grounding was provided in a media release at 1900hrs Tuesday evening.

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.

Awanuia The initial 11 degree heel to port now a 15-18 degree heel to starboard - Astrolabe Reef, Tauranga
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.

The short story is that 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. Either way an expected outcome is that more oil will be 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 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.

According to www.predictwind.com!Predictwind the winds will increase again tomorrow, 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.

Rena - Astrolabe Reef, Tauranga

Salvage operation

· The Rena’s list has worsened to about 15 degrees to starboard. This is a visual estimate from a harbour tug. (Other sources report 18 degrees)
· There is currently a 4 - 5 metre swell.
· During this time further oil has leaked from the ship. This is estimated to be between 200 -300 tonnes. This may have come from the duct keel or an aft tank. This will not be known till the vessel can be resurveyed.
· The crew were taken of the Rena as a precautionary measure this morning. A naval rating was injured as the crew were coming off the Rena. A Rena crew member stepping into the waiting RIB fell down onto the naval rating as the boat dipped down with the swell.
· During pumping operations last night, the bunker barge Awanuia suffered some minor damage, to its foc’sle. This has been repaired in Tauranga Port today and remains there till required back at the Rena.
· There has been no change to the structural integrity of the vessel, which is described as being in 'relatively good shape', but naval architects on board are continuing to keep a close eye on the situation.
· The top priority remains getting oil pumped off the vessel, before it can be salvaged.

Rena - heeling 11 degrees to port - now 15 degrees to starboard - Astrolabe Reef, Tauranga

Oil recovery

· There is a public health warning in place and people are asked to keep off the beaches.
· Do not touch the oil or attempt to clean up the oil as it is toxic. Attempting to handle or remove the oil can also make the damage to the beach worse.
· People on the beach will likely spread the oil through into the hinterlands of the beach and this will cause damage.
· It is essential that all oil is properly disposed of and there is a waste management plan in operation.
· No shellfish or fin fish should be eaten from waters with visible oil contamination.
· The beach clean up began early this morning and has continued throughout the day.
· Tomorrow there will be more teams to cope with the extra oil expected to come onshore. These teams will be assisted by 100 New Zealand Defence Force personnel. All of these people are trained to conduct this work. There are also several rapid response teams.
· The oil is currently heading in a south westerly direction and we expect oil to come ashore between Mount Maunganui to Maketu. The response teams are well equipped and trained to handle the clean up.
· A significant amount of oil is expected to come ashore in the next days.
· The experts are modelling the flows of the oil to track where it will likely end up. We expect significantly more oil to reach the northern end of Papamoa early tomorrow morning.
· There are two water recovery vessels mobilised and they are ready to intercept any oil coming into the harbour at this time but this is being closely monitored.
· The boom at Maketu is still in place.
· If people see oil coming ashore please call the spill response number on 0800 645 774.

Rena position - Astrolabe Reef, Tauranga

Wildlife

· A further four live birds , this is 17 in total, have come into the centre for treatment, and there have been 53 of dead birds.
· Please do not pick up dead birds on the beach. Please call 0800 333 771 with the location of the birds and we will send trained teams to recover the birds. We need to keep counts of the birds to keep track of what species have perished so please report them to us.
· Please DO NOT walk your dog on the beach. This can be harmful to your pet.
· There are 15 field teams from Matakana Island to Maketu scouring the area for oiled wildlife.

Rena Incident report

On the afternoon of 10 October, information was received through media which identified that a vessel had allegedly had a close quarters with the Rena in the days preceding the grounding. This was later identified as the Torea.

Enquiries were then made by MNZ with the Master of Torea who indicated that the vessel took a precautionary 360° turn between 12 and 4am on 2 October off the East Coast, near Napier, after the Rena had overtaken their vessel in an overtaking manoeuvre.

This was a purely precautionary turn to give the Rena more sea room.

The Master has advised MNZ of this information, and the MNZ Investigations team has included this aspect in their ongoing investigation.