Rena Shipwreck




MV Rena Shipwreck

Bay of Plenty New Zealand




MV Rena shpwreck on Astralobe Reef New Zealand


Rena stern on Astralobe Reef

Container ship MV Rena lodged on Astrolabe Reef


Rena stern at 22 degrees


What Happened - The Rena struck Astrolabe Reef, a well documented reef around 2.20am on May 5, 2011 whilst doing over 17 knots. The ship was heading north after rounding East Cape for the port of Tauranga. Weather was good but the vessel was some distance off course and outside the recognised coastal shipping lanes. Over half of the ship became lodged on the reef as illustrated below. The crew have been evacuated with no injuries and most have now left the country. A salvage company was appointed by the ship's Greek owners. The day of the grounding was believed to be the captain's 44th birthday. It is also believed the ship took a short cut in an attempt to make up time and reach the port on time. He and the Second Officer who was in command at the time have been arrested and bailed under the New Zealand Maritime Act. The ship was owned and crewed by Costamare Inc but chartered to MSC Group. Eventually an official enquiry will determine the true reason for the grounding. This has been a wake up call to New Zealand's readiness to cope with such an event.

Containers -Over 88 of the 1,800 shipping containers have fallen off the ship with some beached on Motiti island and others reaching the coast at Mt Maunganui. Salvage crews have been attaching tracking devices to containers on still board deemed as having dangerous cargo. One lost container containing Alkylsuphonic liquid (UN 2586) is unaccounted for and causing concern. A number of the containers have made it to shore, many completely destroyed along with their contents. Of the 88 containers that went overboard, 30 remain unaccounted for. Others have been located close to the entrance channel to Tauranga harbour and either towed to the port or secured by buoys. A Navy minesweeper used towed Sonar equipment to locate sunken containers and protect the busy shipping channel into the port but many are still missing.

Oil Slicks - Large oil slicks washed ashore and over 1,000 military personnel and volunteers have collected most of the predominately No6 bunker oil also known as Bunker C. The pollution is expected to affect much of the Bay of Plenty from Waihi to Whakatane with the popular holiday resorts of Mt Maunganui, Pukehina, Papamoa and Matata most affected. Oil and container debris has also entered Tauranga harbour. Some oil was removed soon after the grounding but bad weather with 3-5 metre swells have been interrupting fuel recovery. Reduced swell height has permitted salvage experts to return to the ship. It is estimated 365 tonnes of oil has spilled. The remaining oil is stored in rear compartments of the ship. 95 tonnes of solid waste and 6 tonnes of liquid waste has been collected from beaches so far. Oil has stopped coming ashore and the main beach areas have been cleaned but further slicks are expected. Offshore Islands and rocky coastline areas will take much longer. Over 6,700 volunteers have either registered for or already been active with the clean up.

Wildlife - over 1,370 birds have been killed by the oil. A recovery centre has been established housing over 380 live birds and penguins. Local volunteers can register to help with the cleanup on 0800 333771

Liability - Under the Maritime Transport Act the ship's owner is liable for up to $12.1 million towards the clean up in addition to the salvage costs but this amount would have doubled to $24 million if the Government had signed up to the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage. The Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) who had leased the ship and who's cargo was being shipped in New Zealand waters had initially failed to communicate and denied any liability. They have subsequently pledged to make a contribution of $NZ 1 million towards the cleanup on Oct 18. The ship is owned and was crewed by Costamare Inc, a Greek shipping company.



Bunker oil slick washing onto Papamoa Beach


Meat products from a container on Papamoa Beach


Military workers and volunteers starting the oil cleanup



Rena Containers just hanging on


Position of MV Rena on Astrolabe Reef Tauranga New Zealand

Topsides exposed to waves


Location of reef positioned at centre of map

Rena shipwreck reef position


Rena starboard hull fracture

Position on top of reef showing unsupported stern


Rena Starboard Hull Fracture




The Astrolabe Reef was a popular fishing and diving location. The reef was populated with many marine species and will be affected for decades. Many Bay of Plenty businesses, charter boat operators, commercial fishermen and accommodation providers will be severely affected by this ecological disaster. Our thoughts go out to everybody impacted and those involved in the clean up

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