Update: Rena About To Break Away?


Tonight’s developments:

  • Rena listing at 18 degrees is close to breaking away
  • Ship has substantial structure failure and cracked
  • Oil has reached Waihi Beach, concern about Coromandel
  • 70 containers off the vessel
  • 200 dead birds collected
  • Exclusion zone extended
  • Captain charged

Maritime NZ admitted tonight that there is a concern that the stern of the cargo ship Rena may now break away.

The Rena has suffered substantial structural failure, with cracks appearing in the hull. This has been caused by the movement of the vessel as the stern, which has remained afloat, shifting with the waves, while the front part of the ship remains stuck on the reef.

The salvors have three tugs mobilised either to hold the stern on the reef while further effort is made to remove the oil, or to tow the stern to shallow water where they will remove the oil.

Naval architects are working on possible scenarios. Iwi are also involved in advising on any cultural issues regarding moving or sinking the ship.

The authorities say the ship’s fuel tanks look intact and are sealed units. The released oil may have come from the duct keel or an aft tank. This will not be known till the vessel can be resurveyed.

At least 70 containers have now come off the vessel. Those remaining continue to move, making it extremely dangerous for salvage crews to work on board. Six vessels have been mobilised to intercept the drifting debris in the water. Any containers that wash ashore remain the property of the owners or insurers. Police warn that anyone found to be attempting to remove the containers or take goods from them will face prosecution.

There will be substantial oil on the beaches, in the water and on the foreshore. This is expected to result in around 10,000 tonnes of sandy waste.

Oil has now been found north of Waihi Beach and there’s a meeting tonight about concerns it will reach Coromandel soon.

Rena containers about to fall |NZDF

MNZ National on Scene Commander Nick Quinn says he is confident that he has the people, equipment and plans to cope with the increasing scale of the Rena response.

“Our experience means we have been preparing for a worst case scenario right from the start. We already have hundreds of well trained responders from a number of organisations across land, sea and air operations, and have access to more if we need them.

“Our priority is the here and now, and cleaning up the oil. However this is not a quick fix so we are here for the long haul,” Mr Quinn says. “Until now we have had a light oiling of beaches – this will significantly increase as more oil washes ashore over the coming days.

“We are continuing our plans for getting people onto the beach for the massive cleanup task.”

There are 20 teams on the beaches, comprising about 250 people, cleaning up the oil. Four vessels are in the harbour to deal with any oil that may enter the area.

Navy and Air Force helicopters are undertaking surveillance flights to monitor the movement of oil at sea.
Tere will be a drop of Personal Protective Equipment to iwi groups to allow monitoring of the foreshore in their areas. This has been arranged through the iwi liaison team.

Exclusion zone

The exclusion zone around the ship has been extended. The new area runs from Mount Manganui to Matata and extends out beyond Motiti to Astrolabe Reef to ensure that all vessels avoid areas affected by oil and containers. This is approximately 20 kilometres off shore. The situation is expected to continue for some time and the exclusion zone is being monitored. Anyone found breaching the exclusion zone could be fined.

Boat owners are being reminded that fuel oil that has escaped from the Rena may stick to boat hulls and gear and will need to be cleaned off in a controlled environment.

Dead birds

200 dead birds have so far been collected.

There are now 36 field teams currently out working on the wildlife response. From Matakana Island to Maketu, the teams are scouring the area for oiled wildlife.

In total, the Wildlife Response Centre has 41 birds in its care – a mixture of shags, petrels, dottrels and little blue penguins. Three seals are also at the wildlife facility, with two more on their way to the centre. The response team is currently setting traps for seals to check them for oil.

Maritime NZ is warning the public of scam callers after reports to the Wildlife team reporting people receiving phone calls asking for donations.

Volunteers needed

A call tonight for olunteers to help with the beach cleanup. A volunteer beach clean up programme has been put in place. Beach liaison volunteers will be on beaches tomorrow morning to advise potential volunteers and the public what the plan is. Training of beach clean up supervisors will be carried out tomorrow morning.

If you want to volunteer and haven’t done so yet, please call 0800 645 774 or email [email protected]


A second officer, who was in charge of the navigational watch of the vessel Rena, is facing one charge laid by Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) under section 65 of the Maritime Transport Act (MTA) 1994, “for operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk”.

He will appear in the Tauranga District Court at 10am tomorrow 

One s65 MTA charge has been laid.

This morning, the Master of the vessel appeared in the Tauranga District Court facing the same charge. He was remanded on bail until 19 October, on the condition he surrender his passport. His name is suppressed.

The s65 charge carries a maximum penalty of $10,000, or a maximum term of imprisonment of 12 months.





  1. Ingolfson says:

    “A call tonight for olunteers to help with the beach cleanup. A volunteer beach clean up programme has been put in place.”

    Weren’t they yesterday giving people doom and gloom and warning of instant cancer* for trying to even get close to spilled oil, let along try to clean it up?

    * Okay, I am slightly exaggerating, but I found the early warnings just a bit over the top. Can’t think of any oil spill that ever killed humans…


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