Rena Spill: Rena Did Have Deficiences


Maritime New Zealand has revealed the stricken ship Rena was visited at Bluff on September 28 by a Maritime New Zealand Safety Inspector as a “follow-up” visit to clear deficiencies issued to the ship by a Port State Control inspection undertaken in China on July 5.

One deficiency remained against the ship after the MNZ visit, with a three-month action date but the government agency says this was “not considered sufficient to warrant detention of the vessel.”

“This deficiency was being actioned, as the vessel was to have a survey/audit in Singapore. This deficiency related to how the vessel implemented the International Safety Management system which is an international process on ship operations and systems.,” Maritime NZ said at its latest media briefing.

The Maritime Union today said it had received information that that inspection of the vessel in Bluff found multiple deficiencies on the Rena including problems with the charts – a possible clue as to how the vessel may have ended up running into the Astrolabe Reef at top speed.

Maritime NZ says there were 18 deficiencies issued against the ship in the Chinese inspection.

Twelve of these deficiencies were “rectify before departure” which means they must be fixed before the ship leaves the port. The other six deficiencies were less serious and to be rectified within 14 days, which means they needed to be rectified before 19 July 2011.

The “chart” deficiency noted by Chinese inspectors referred to a correction to Chart 4123 – a China South Coast Chart – and is “not relevant to the current situation” . The Chinese PSCO (Port State Control Officer) did not return to the ship to clear the deficiencies before the ship departed, but the ship signalled that the deficiencies had been rectified.

A subsequent Port State Control inspection in Fremantle WA on 21 July 2011 raised additional deficiencies and the vessel was detained. (Seventeen deficiencies were raised at this time.)

On July 22, a follow-up inspection at Fremantle cleared 15 deficiencies raised the previous day. A further follow-up inspection at Port Botany NSW on September 22 cleared a further deficiency issued at the Fremantle inspection.

Maritime NZ says none of the deficiencies raised by the Chinese inspection conducted on 5 July 2011 were removed from a database which records deficiencies

According to the Master of the Rena, they had been checked.

An MNZ Maritime Safety Inspector attended the vessel to check why the deficiencies had not been signed off.

But that inspector did not conduct an inspection of the vessel.

The Rena is a Liberian flagged, Greek owned Flag of Convenience cargo ship covered by an ITF (International Transport Workers Federation) agreement. The crew are 25 Filipinos.

According to the union’s source, the  deficiencies on the Rena noted by Maritime New Zealand included:

  • Fixed fire extinguishing installation
  • Maintenance of the ship and equipment
  • Obstruction/slipping, etc.
  • Propulsion main engine
  • Doors within main vertical zone
  • Covers (hatchway-, portable-, tarpaulins, etc.)
  • Gangway, accommodation ladder
  • Charts
  • Lighting
  • Safe means of access
  • Stowage of lifeboats
  • Emergency Fire Pump
  • Railing, cat walks
  • Other (radio)
  • Lifeboat inventory
  • Fire-dampers


Awanui | Maritime NZ

Oil on beaches- why isn’t it being removed?

Maritime NZ says it realises that people are concerned that there is not enough action happening on the beaches to clean up the oil.

“But the oil isn’t going anywhere. There are onshore winds and high tides coming which means that more oil will be washed up and the existing oil will be washed further up the beach. If we rush to clean all the oil off the beach now we will just be back there in a few hours to do it again, which isn’t the best use of our resources. It is more effective to wait until it accumulates and remove it all together.”

Oil has now been found on beaches from Mount Maunganui to Girven Road and on the southern end of Matakana Island. It is in individual clumps of about fist-sized patties about 5mm high and stranded on the tide line about every 700 to 800mm apart.

The beach clean up will begin at low tide which it considers the best time to clean it. Initially 10 trained teams will carry out the beach clean ups and it will expand to 20 teams later. Beach cleanup teams will increase in number as more oil accumulates on the beaches by trained personnel.

They are collecting and monitoring samples of shellfish, sediment and water from numerous areas and have identified the most sensitive sites. These include the Maketū estuary and there are no reports of oil there yet.

They have attempted to deploy a boom across the estuary but strong currents and surges and currents have made this very difficult.

“We are investigating other possible options, however, preventing oil from entering the estuary may be impossible. We appreciate people’s concerns but we request people to leave the oil to us and we will deal with it.”

Latest on salvage

The salvors have moved oil from one of the forward (port) tanks into a more secure tank at the back of the vessel. The salvors are extracting volatile gasses from the tank so they can get an operator in to manually put the pumps into the tank.

“Because there is a platform in the way inside the tank we cannot lower the pump directly into the tank. As soon as it is safe to go into the tank we will have people in there equipped with breathing apparatus.”

With the help of the Air Force, more crew coming for the Awanuia were flown from Auckland to continue the oil retrieval operation. About 36 salvors and crew are on board. There are no obvious signs of deformation of the vessel. The Awanuia attempted several time to connect but the weather conditions prevented this.

Position of boat on reef | Svitzer.

Latest on wildlife

There are no more oiled wildlife at the wildlife centre other than the seven penguins and two cormorants which are now all swimming happily. The nine teams searching the beaches and four teams on Mōtītī have found o signs of oiled wildlife. There is a report of one oiled dog.


Maritime NZ says the corexit being used has been widely tested and has very low toxicity. It is 10 to 20 times less toxic than dishwashing liquid and the ingredients that make up the dispersant are in most shampoos.

The dispersant breaks the oil into small droplets, and any issue with toxicity relates to the spilt oil, not the dispersant.




  1. andy (the other one) says:

    They hit the reef fair and square in the middle. They can’t possibly re float without major damage to the reef or the boat.

    Reports suggest it was going full steam ahead when it grounded.

    If it breaks up which I think it will it will become a left field election issue.

  2. Ben says:

    Heck that is square on in the middle. HOW ON EARTH could she do that?

    Unless they can make her super light, any attempt to refloat the ship might tear a massive hole in the hull.

    Strange irony - new diving wreck anyone?

  3. James says:

    Lets make a diving wreck of the bottom and a restaurant with gift shop at the top! Just kidding of course! :)

  4. Bazza-in-Blighty says:

    Why do so many people (incl. some sloppy BBC journalists) make the mistake of assuming that any ship with oil fuel on board is a tanker? The “Reina” is a container ship (you can see the containers stacked on deck in the pic). The oil she is carrying is bunker fuel - required for use in her engines.
    As to why she is slap bang in the middle of the Astrolabe reef - in all likelihood very poor watchkeeping/on-board management. Will be interesting to hear what comes out of the inquiry - including what might come to light about the certification of some of her deck officers. Forged/”bought” certificates of competency are certainly - from my experience - not unknown in the part of the world that her crew come from.

  5. John Dalley says:

    Is the Rena to become National’s version of “Corngate”
    What is disappointing to see is the obvious lack of a “Hazards” plan for Tauranga & the Mount.
    Should we be asking this question about Aucklands potential for maritime disasters.

  6. Bazza-in-Blighty says:

    Good to see the “t” word (tanker) mentioned in my earlier comment has now been edited out of this post. Thanks Jon. Your updates otherwise seem to be more on the ball than “Granny” Herald’s!

  7. Lily says:

    The MSC burns bunker fuel in most of their ships. The Rena being such a one. Bunker fuel leaves behind a trail of potentially lethal chemicals: sulphur and smoke that have been linked to breathing problems, inflammation, cancer and heart disease. That ship, or its like, will be coming into Tauranga harbour every two weeks.

  8. BD says:

    And the government want to expand oil exploration plans in these waters as well, doesn’t add up. Will be seeing more risks like this, those poor penguins, beaches, etc. Happy Feet’s cousins are not amused thanks to the oil spill in their pristine no our pristine environment.


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