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Last Days of the Rena

Last Days of the Rena

Maritime New Zealand News Release

Severe weather overnight has separated the MV Rena into two pieces, which are now about 20-30m apart on the Astrolabe Reef, Maritime New Zealand says.

Both sections of the vessel still remain on the reef, with the forward section remaining firmly wedged, while the aft section has separated and moved clockwise (or to starboard) about 13 degrees, after the ship was hit by seas of over 7m overnight, further worsening the damage it sustained following its grounding on the reef just over three months ago. The current bad weather is forecast to slowly ease over next 3 – 4 days.

MNZ Salvage Unit Manager David Billington said the fresh damage to the ship had resulted in the loss of a large number of containers and debris.

“While the two sections of the Rena currently remain on the reef, there’s no question the ship is badly damaged with the severe movement breaking off many of the hatch covers and releasing containers from the holds. Salvors are now working to assess the state of the vessel so that naval architects can undertake further calculations get gain a clearer picture of its ongoing stability.”

Mr Billington said the vessel Go Canopus was currently connected to the aft section of the Rena and was continuing to monitor its status.

At least 23 containers had been confirmed as being lost from the ship, which were floating or partly submerged, with another 7 (unconfirmed) thought to be in the water. However, Mr Billington said more were likely to be lost. There was also a large debris trail, including wood, around the vessel.

Container recovery company Bramear Howells had tugs en route to tag containers with buoys as it was currently too rough to tow or safely recover them, while vessels with trawl nets would also be sent out to collect debris once weather conditions improved.

Navigational warnings had also been issued to shipping, with the port company communicating with individual ships via port radio and warnings issued to recreational vessels via Coastguard radio. Shipping lanes were also being monitored for containers and debris. The Bay of Plenty Regional Council Harbour Master is considering extending the 3nm exclusion zone due to the large debris field from Rena.

National On Scene Commander Alex van Wijngaarden said the National Response Team had been mobilised, which included trained oil spill response and wildlife experts, who were preparing for the likelihood of more oil coming ashore.

“While reports at this stage indicate there has not been a significant release of oil, with the Rena in its current fragile state, a further release is likely. While it is unknown at this stage exactly how much oil may be released, teams have been mobilised and will be ready to respond to anything that may come ashore. The wildlife response had also been increased to help deal with any affected wildlife.

“At this stage, preliminary trajectory modelling predicts that any oil released will come ashore around midnight tonight, landing on beaches south east of Mt Maunganui – however, this could change at any time depending on the weather and wind conditions. We also remind people that there may be large amounts of debris or containers that could come ashore so they need to exercise common sense and please keep clear.

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Rena Breakup Predicted

Rena Breakup Predicted


Salvage Update

Latest reports state the Rena is predicted to breakup as conditions worsen.  Weather forecasts have swells growing from 3 meters up to 5 meters.  Salvage teams have also reported further buckling of the hull along the submerged starboard side just forward of the bridge. 

Salvage teams are preparing for the worst.  Tracking sensors are being attached to containers with additional tugs are ready to be deployed to recover any containers that fall into the sea.   The tug Go Canopus is to stand by if the Rena breaks up.  The Go Canopus would tow the stern to shallower water to allow futher oil removal.

Another Oil Spill?

Over 1000 tons of oil has been pumped off the Rena by the salvage team.  However, this leaves about 360 tons to be removed from the submerged starboard No. 5 tank.  Pumping operations stopped when heavy swells made it to dangerous to continue.  Salvors were nearing completion of a cofferdam to access the the submerged tank.  Reports state the salvage team sealed the tanks and air vents in case the Rena broke up.  If the starboard tank maintains integrity, the risk should be minimal.   However, if the tank ruptures, it could double the total oil spilled to 700 tons.    Some oil sheen is expected as some oil trapped from duct keel is released.  Rough seas are expected to dispurse some of the pollution.

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800 Tons of Oil Removed

800 Tons of Oil Removed

Gallery of photos on the Rena

Oil Removal

Over 800 tons of oil has been removed from the Rena as the salvage team completed pumping out the port number five tank.   The remaining 600 tons are located in other four other tanks.  The starboard number 5 tank is submerged will be much more difficult task.   The salvage team needs to reach an underwater manhole access hatch in pitch black conditions with everything disoriented due to the heavy list.  The team is trying to dam off the section and pump out the water around it to gain access.  The starboard number 5 tank has 350 tons of oil to be removed.  In addition, there are three other tanks in the engine room holding a combined 250 tons of oil still to go.   Salvors are also attempting to pump out oil from the settling tanks.  The remaining amount of oil in the settling tanks is not known but estimates place it under 100 tons.


The heavy crane vessel Pancaldo has arrived on scene and has removed some containers from the sea floor.   The Pancaldo will begin salvage operations and removal of containers off the deck of the Rena when oil removal has completed.  In addition, the vessel Brandy Wine is also being used in recovery of containers.   The Brandy Wine has already remove containers from Motiti Island.

Environmental Cleanup

Reports state over 808 tons of waste has been collected so far by over 6,700 people.   The cleanup effort has been split between cleaning up oil and the pollution resulting from the contents of the containers.  Reports state the cleanup process will continue as several beaches that get re-oiled and re-cleaned daily.   Officials have ended the need for volunteers to register to help with cleanup efforts.  They have requested that volunteers to just turn up.  More than 1300 oiled birds have died with another 885 being treated at wildlife facilities.  Officials have added six enclosures specialized for penguins.   Currently, there are over 300 penguins being housed at Te Maunga.

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