Grounded Cargo Vessel RENA breaks apart

According to the Associated Press and Maritime New Zealand, “the cargo ship RENA grounded off the New Zealand coast since October has split in two, spilling sea containers and debris and sparking fears of a fresh oil spill.” The Rena ran aground on Astrolabe Reef 22km from Tauranga Harbour on North Island on Oct 5 2011.

The wreck of the Greek-owned vessel has been described as New Zealand’s worst maritime environmental disaster, leaking fuel oil and 300 of the roughly 880 containers that had been on board were lost when the ship broke apart.

Investigations by The Associated Press last month revealed that Australian authorities impounded the vessel, but released it the next day after Liberian maritime authorities intervened, essentially saying the ship was safe to sail and the problems could be fixed later.

Some 10 weeks later, the Rena ran full-steam into a well-marked reef off the coast of New Zealand. It’s not clear whether the previously identified problems played any role.

The captain and Rena’s navigating officer face criminal charges of operating a ship in a dangerous or risky manner, polluting the environment and altering the ship’s documents after the crash.

After reading the above AP news report I looked up the RENA in GreenLine System’s MDA/MSA risk application tool VSS and found the following:

The RENA is Liberian Flagged, Classed by the ABS, P&I coverage provided by the Swedish Club, and with a SMC/DOC issuer of Germanischer Lloyd.  Seemingly all up to date and with companies that are expected to provide good oversight on the vessels seaworthiness.

The vessel has been operating globally since being purchased by Costamare Shipping Co SA 9/27/2010 for $11 Million.  Costamare is the parent company for the RENA’s Registered Owner Daina Shipping Co. According to our database (provided by IHS Fairplay) the crew of the ill-fated vessel were comprised of 18 Officers and Non-Rates from the Philippines.

According to the South African Press Association, “The vessel at the centre of New Zealand’s worst maritime pollution disaster ran aground because the captain was taking a short cut, the New Zealand government alleged on Saturday…Environment Minister Nick Smith said it appeared the Rena hit a reef off the resort area of Tauranga when the vessel was trying to get to port quickly…it appears from the charts that they were in a rush to get to port, went full bore, cut the corner, and hit the reef.”

So while there is nothing blatantly wrong with the administration of the vessel RENA, the most glaring issue facing the vessel was the fact that it was detained by Fremantle Port Authorities for a list of 17 defects, but as was reported by the AP, was allowed to leave port the next day after being approached by Liberian Maritime Authorities.  When reviewing the list of discrepancies one notices some significant issues that if not directly impacting the grounding certainly leaves the impression that the vessel was not as well monitored or maintained as it could have been. This is evidenced by the fact that during its last three inspections the RENA was cited for numerous defects each time:

5 July 2011 Shenzhen, China 18 defects noted

21 July 2011 Fremantle, Australia 17 defects noted

28 September 2011 Bluff, New Zealand 19 defects noted

The below defect list is from the port visit to Fremantle at which time the vessel was subsequently detained and when the vessel was reinspected at Port Botany, Australia 22 September 2011 all the Fremantle defects were rectified with the exception of the ISM Related Deficiencies.  However, upon inspection in New Zealand six days later 19 defects were noted once again.