Rena: Now Noise From Cracks, Movement


While  Rena salvage crew remain on standby, flights this morning will  assess any changes that may have occurred overnight with the Rena.

Yesterday afternoon, a closer inspection  of the Rena, grounded on the Astrolabe Reef, showed some movement and noise coming from the cracks on both sides of the vessel.

The inspection by MNZ advisors and naval architects of the Liberia-registered container ship found the bow section is still sitting firmly on the reef, with the stern section showing some movement with the swell and tide.

With continuing unfavourable weather conditions predicted to continue over the next 24 hours, which will continue to stop oil pumping operations and affect the movement of the ship, Maritime NZ officials are not holding back from their language.

While no-one is actually admitting the ship could be about to break up, they warn that salvage efforts of the Rena are “now entering a critical phase.”

The container ship which grounded on the reef on October 5, has so far spewed about 350 tonnes of oil into the sea but only about 90 tonnes of oil was able to be pumped off the vessel before pumping was halted and the tanker Awanuia was forced to detach and stand off.

This is how Rena looks today as its buffeted by strong winds of up to 35 knots and swells of 2–4m:

Rena with a 21 degree list in rough seas still spilling some oil |MNZ

MNZ Salvage Unit Manager Andrew Berry says the ship is in a dynamic situation and electronic sensor equipment on board continues to monitor its movement.

“We’re in a critical place during the next 24 hours due to the weather. We have one tug still connected to the stern of Rena ready to respond should the ship break up, with two other tugs on standby.”

Mr Berry says a range of response plans are in place to deal with a variety of potential scenarios should the ship’s condition rapidly deteriorate, with salvage experts ready to respond day or night.

There are currently no salvors on board Rena as the salvors, Svitzer, wait for weather conditions to improve before attempting to re-board the ship to recommence pumping on to Awanuia.

“Salvors really need an improvement in the weather before they can resume pumping the oil off the vessel. They also need to ensure that it is safe for them to re-board Rena, and are continuing to monitor and assess the movement and changes in the ship’s position on the reef.”

A small amount of oil was released from the bow of Rena after pumping stopped.

This was the light sheen of oil has been observed moving out to sea with the prevailing wind.

Rena today with evidence of oil leaking | MNZ

To date, 88 containers from Rena have been lost overboard, with approximately 30 still unaccounted for. The remaining 58 containers have either landed ashore or been secured to buoys. Some containers on board are in a precarious position and strong winds forecast for tonight may cause more to be lost.

Meanwhile, beach clean-up activities have been scaled back today due to the poor weather and the fact most beaches are largely clear of oil. A small amount of fresh oil has come ashore this evening near Harrison’s Cut along a 3km stretch of shoreline. Teams have been tasked to clean this oil tomorrow.

Responders advise more oil is likely to land on the shoreline, depending on weather and the status of the ship over the coming days, and are prepared for this.

The Wildlife Response Centre has received 18 new intakes, bringing the total number in care to 253

Green Party Marine spokesperson Gareth Hughes says the Rena tragedy shows the risks to New Zealand of moving Australian uranium yellowcake through our ports.

“Thankfully the Rena was not carrying any uranium, although cargo ships regularly come through Tauranga port carrying the radioactive and toxic substance.

“The Greens do not support the transport of uranium through our ports, but if we are to continue, we need to make coastal shipping safer and to prepare better for accidents.”

Couldn’t agree more. I had no idea ships carrying uranium were regularly passing through Tauranga.




  1. Bazza-in-Blighty says:

    At least (and at last) there’s some encouraging news on the pollution liability front with the owner’s P&I insurers (the Swedish Club is an industry heavyweight and ‘Club’ used in this sense refers to the fact that it is a mutual association funded by its shipowner members - google protection & indemnity insurance if you want to know how the system works) putting out a statement accepting responsibility:


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