Rena Latest:Ship Moving, Significant Oil Leaked


Main developments

  • Significant oil leak
  • Ship moving about and damaged
  • Front of ship damaged
  • No containers have come off
  • Crew evacuated after mayday
  • Weather bad


Maritime NZ says there’s a significant amount of oil leaking from the cargo ship Rena which remains on the Astrolabe reef and while the ship is still intact, it is moving around in the weather conditions.

The leak so far was estimated at 130 to 350 tonnes when officials flew over the scene this morning. They detected no obvious signs of deformation but the ship has sustained some damage from current movements.

And oil may also be leaking from the duct keel because of the damage sustained. Salvors are monitoring and assessing this situation.

The oil leaking from the ship is currently heading in a southerly direction which means it will move south down the coast.

Maritime says :”We can’t control where the oil goes, but response teams are well equipped and trained to handle these situations.”

Maritime NZ calls it inevitable that some oil will reach beaches from Mount Maunganui south to Maketu. Oil is also expected to enter Tauranga Port.

The Rena is settled on the Astrolabe reef as the list has improved from 11 degrees to 3 to 6 degrees.

All personnel have now been taken off the vessel as a precautionary measure due to the conditions. The vessel earlier called a mayday as precaution to expedite the safe removal of the remaining crew.

The weather in the area of the ship remains poor, with 3-4m swells and winds of 20-25 knots (37-46 kph).

There has been more damage to the front part in the vessel, and additional flooding in the forward holds. However, this will to some degree help to settle the ship.

Maritime says no containers have come off the vessel. With the improved list the containers have become more stable, as they are now more upright than before. We are monitoring the dangerous goods containers, which are all intact and lashed down, but we will continue to monitor them.

There are 2 on water recovery vessels mobilised and they are ready to intercept any oil coming into the harbour.

Dispersants are being tested on the fresh oil leaking from the ship. There is however sea swells of up to 4 metres which usually makes it difficult for the dispersant to work.

The Maketu estuary boom is still in place. There is no oil in the Maketu and Matakana estuaries, but with the currents and surge coming in it is possible oil will come into the estuaries even if the boom is there.

“We are prepared for this and have teams ready to be deployed immediately.”

There are no fresh reports of any more oiled wildlife.

The Green Party is calling on the Government to have better engagement with locals concerned about the Rena cargo ship, grounded on a reef near Tauranga Harbour. “The Government can call an urgent Town Hall meeting so the public can find out the latest and have an opportunity to question those involved in the salvage and clean-up,” said Green Party marine spokesperson Gareth Hughes.


Earlier 730am
Fresh oil has been seen this morning leaking from the cargo ship Rena, heading in a south-westerly direction.

Maritime NZ says that overnight, the Rena’s list has moved from 11 degrees, to a more upright position of 3–6 degrees, and its orientation or heading on the reef has changed by about 4 degrees.

This movement is believed to have been caused by some crushing of the rock underneath the front part of the vessel, and salvage experts say that this is normal and to be expected in these situations.

As a precautionary measure however, further non-essential crew are being taken off the vessel this morning, assisted by the Navy.

Maritime NZ says there has been no change to the structural integrity of the vessel, which is described as being in “relatively good shape”, but naval architects on board are continuing to keep a close eye on the situation.

“The movement of the vessel to a more upright position is good insofar as it provides a more level platform for the containers on board and for people on board the vessel.”

The authorities’ top priority remains getting oil pumped off the vessel, before it can be salvaged. Overnight, it says further good progress was made in transferring fuel to the rear of the ship, where it is less vulnerable to spilling and can be pumped off.

During pumping operations yesterday, the bunker barge Awanuia suffered some minor damage, with minor damage to its foc’sle. It has now returned to port to have that damage repaired. As soon as it is repaired, it will head back out to the Rena. However, owing to the poor weather conditions, the Awanuia is currently unable to resume pumping from the Rena.

Profile diagram of Rena with depth information.| Maritime NZ

Maritime NZ continues this morning to tell the public to “be patient” in the delay in their cleaning oil from beaches.

It agrees it’s highly likely that oil will enter the harbour area, but “this cannot be prevented due to very strong currents, but it will be cleaned up. More oil is also expected at Papamoa and Maketu.”

An aerial observation flight is going up this morning to assess what oil is leaking from the ship, and what oil there may be in the water. If there is oil there, it will be sprayed with dispersant.

So far oil has been found on beaches from Mount Maunganui to Girven Road and on the southern end of Matakana Island. The boom at Maketu is still in place at Maketu and is being checked to determine how effective it has been.

The oil is in individual clumps of about fist-sized patties about 5mm high and stranded on the tide line about every 700 to 800mm apart.

Says Maritime NZ: “Although we have specialist teams on standby ready to clean up the oil, there will inevitably be some delay as they are mobilised and travel to affected areas. Please be patient. Although it looks bad, the oil in its clumped state is at no risk of going anywhere, and people attempting to remove it without the proper training or equipment risk making the situation worse.”

There is a report of one oiled dog but no more wildlife cases.

Greenpeace says its concerned about the continued used of the dispersant Corexit 9500, due to the likelihood of its increasing the toxic load on the marine environment.
“Corexit is often referred to within the oil industry as ‘Hidez-it’ – it doesn’t remove the oil, but instead just hides it from sight, and it only adds to the toxicity of an oil spill,” Greenpeace says in a statement.




  1. Ben says:

    Am hearing reports the ship could be breaking up (ok it isnt). If that is so looking at the chart above, I would say the ship might break its back at that 13m mark.

    Looking at it as well, even if they did get all the oil and cargo off to make the ship super light, would the ship be high and strong enough to be pulled off the reef without sinking?

  2. Kris says:

    Ben - I think you might be right.

    Most of the weight is at the back of the vessel. With no support on the stern, the breakage would at the weakest point being the 13 to 36 mark if the swell increases from 2-3 mtrs to 3-5 mtrs.

    It is similar to the Titanic where the weight was concentrated to the rear of the vessel.

    I am still curious to where the containers have been off loaded by now.

    Also why has it been a loss start to take off the fuel?

    I clearly shows for an island nation relying on sea transport, NZ is not well equipped for this type of situation despite previous situations in the past.

    Maritime NZ really needs to get its self sorted to handle future incidents.

  3. John Dalley says:

    I was in Tauranga at the weekend and the word is that those in the Maratime industry down there are aware that the Rema is severly cracked underneath and it is only a matter of time before she breaks in half.

  4. James says:

    Last i heard was that the containers were still on the ship but lashed together….
    They are really just hoping for nothing to happen but almost doing nothing.

  5. richard says:

    If this is the reaction to a cargo ship how would the authorities react to a 100,000 tonne oil tanker breaking up? OR a leaking oil rig………..?

    The ship being used to remove the oil had to sail down from Auckland surely a port the size of Mt Maunganui should have disaster equipment on stand by all the time. All the airports have emergency crash services available, it should be funded automatically in the port charges to shipping.

  6. damian says:

    There is no point having emergency equipment of this nature on standby at the POT simply because the risk of something like this occuring is / was very low.

    All ships are piloted into the harbour, and the shallow ground around the port entry is mostly sand.

    At the end of the day, the Captain of the Rena got it badly wrong so I dont know why people are blaming the response team.

    You cant plan for these emergencies more than what has already been done


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