Death of the Rena

Aerial shot taken in the morning of Sunday, October 23, showing a sheen of oil that had leaked from the Rena overnight.
Aerial shot taken in the morning of Sunday, October 23, showing a sheen of oil that had leaked from the Rena overnight.
Photo taken by salvage team looking out of Rena's bridge showing the list of the vessel against the horizon.
Photo taken by salvage team looking out of Rena's bridge showing the list of the vessel against the horizon.
Rena's bow is broken and twisted from the impact with the Astrolabe Reef off Tauranga.
Rena's bow is broken and twisted from the impact with the Astrolabe Reef off Tauranga.
Calm conditions around Astrolabe Reef on Thursday, October 20, allowed these close up photos of the Rena's stern to be taken.
Calm conditions around Astrolabe Reef on Thursday, October 20, allowed these close up photos of the Rena's stern to be taken.
The ocean washes in and out of the wide fracture on Rena's starboard side.
The ocean washes in and out of the wide fracture on Rena's starboard side.
Rena's remaining containers hang precariously. More than 80 containers have fallen overboard. Many have come ashore, and others are being located on the seabed.
Rena's remaining containers hang precariously. More than 80 containers have fallen overboard. Many have come ashore, and others are being located on the seabed.
A Maritime NZ diagram  shows how the Rena is grounded on the Astrolabe Reef.
A Maritime NZ diagram shows how the Rena is grounded on the Astrolabe Reef.
A Maritime NZ  diagram shows how the Rena is grounded on the Astrolabe Reef.
A Maritime NZ diagram shows how the Rena is grounded on the Astrolabe Reef.
HANGING IN THERE: The Awanuia sits behind the Rena and its leaning stack of containers.
HANGING IN THERE: The Awanuia sits behind the Rena and its leaning stack of containers.
CLEAR SPELL: Salvors are racing against time to remove oil from the Rena before bad weather hits late on Monday, October 17.
CLEAR SPELL: Salvors are racing against time to remove oil from the Rena before bad weather hits late on Monday, October 17.
HEAVY LIST: Rena's cargo sits precariously on the deck of the ship.
HEAVY LIST: Rena's cargo sits precariously on the deck of the ship.
Containers from the grounded cargo ship Rena are removed from east of the main beach at Mt Maunganui after washing ashore.
Containers from the grounded cargo ship Rena are removed from east of the main beach at Mt Maunganui after washing ashore.
Salvors have attached platforms to the stricken ship Rena.
Salvors have attached platforms to the stricken ship Rena.
Platforms salvors have attached to the Rena as they attempt to resume pumping oil from the stricken ship.
Platforms salvors have attached to the Rena as they attempt to resume pumping oil from the stricken ship.
A Royal New Zealand Air Force helicopter winches a salvage expert onto the stricken container ship Rena.
A Royal New Zealand Air Force helicopter winches a salvage expert onto the stricken container ship Rena.
DEFORMED: Damage to the Rena's structure.
DEFORMED: Damage to the Rena's structure.
HEAVY DAMAGE: Rena lists to starboard, with the damage to her hull clear.
HEAVY DAMAGE: Rena lists to starboard, with the damage to her hull clear.
An Air Force Iroquois helicopter lowers crew onto the Rena, Thursday October 13. What looks like smoke billowing from the ship is probably milk powder, Fonterra said. There were 90 containers of the product on the ship.
An Air Force Iroquois helicopter lowers crew onto the Rena, Thursday October 13. What looks like smoke billowing from the ship is probably milk powder, Fonterra said. There were 90 containers of the product on the ship.
An Air Force Iroquois helicopter lowers crew onto the Rena.
An Air Force Iroquois helicopter lowers crew onto the Rena.
The slick drifting from the Rena, seen from the air, Thursday October 13.
The slick drifting from the Rena, seen from the air, Thursday October 13.
This image shows a crack appearing in the middle of the Rena's hull.
This image shows a crack appearing in the middle of the Rena's hull.
Containers have also been crushed as heavy swells wash across Rena's deck.
Containers have also been crushed as heavy swells wash across Rena's deck.
Rena losing containers as heavy swells wash across the ship's deck on the starboard side.
Rena losing containers as heavy swells wash across the ship's deck on the starboard side.
A container coming ashore on the northern side of Motiti Island, which is around 7km from the ship grounding site.
A container coming ashore on the northern side of Motiti Island, which is around 7km from the ship grounding site.
The first container to hit the rocks and break-up on the northern side of Motiti Island, which is around 7km from the ship.
The first container to hit the rocks and break-up on the northern side of Motiti Island, which is around 7km from the ship.
POUNDED: Waves crash onto the listing Rena's deck.
POUNDED: Waves crash onto the listing Rena's deck.
Many containers on the Rena's top deck are tipped on a heavy angle, close to toppling off.
Many containers on the Rena's top deck are tipped on a heavy angle, close to toppling off.
This photo taken from the HMNZS Endeavour shows Rena listing in heavy seas. Between 30 and 70 containers fell from the Rena overnight.
This photo taken from the HMNZS Endeavour shows Rena listing in heavy seas. Between 30 and 70 containers fell from the Rena overnight.
INJURED: A naval officer is carried to an ambulance after a member of the salvage crew fell on him during the evacuation of the ship.
INJURED: A naval officer is carried to an ambulance after a member of the salvage crew fell on him during the evacuation of the ship.
RENA: The ship has 1368 containers on board.
RENA: The ship has 1368 containers on board.
LISTING: Waves break over the reef while the Rena sits, stranded.
LISTING: Waves break over the reef while the Rena sits, stranded.
The Rena, a Liberia-flagged 235m vessel, had been heading to Tauranga from Napier when it crashed into the Astrolabe Reef, about 7km north of Motiti Island.
The Rena, a Liberia-flagged 235m vessel, had been heading to Tauranga from Napier when it crashed into the Astrolabe Reef, about 7km north of Motiti Island.
Low tide showed the extent of the problems facing the Rena's specialist salvage team.
Low tide showed the extent of the problems facing the Rena's specialist salvage team.
The crew had remained onboard despite the vessel's list.
The crew had remained onboard despite the vessel's list.
The crippled Rena, with  a growing oil slick, off the coast of Mt Maunganui.
The crippled Rena, with a growing oil slick, off the coast of Mt Maunganui.
The Rena, a Liberia-flagged 235m vessel, had been heading to Tauranga from Napier when it crashed into the Astrolabe Reef, about 7km north of Motiti Island.
The Rena, a Liberia-flagged 235m vessel, had been heading to Tauranga from Napier when it crashed into the Astrolabe Reef, about 7km north of Motiti Island.
The Rena, a Liberia-flagged 235m vessel, had been heading to Tauranga from Napier when it crashed into the Astrolabe Reef, about 7km north of Motiti Island.
The Rena, a Liberia-flagged 235m vessel, had been heading to Tauranga from Napier when it crashed into the Astrolabe Reef, about 7km north of Motiti Island.

Stranded cargo ship Rena was last night at the point of breaking after suffering "substantial structural failure", risking an environmental catastrophe the taxpayer is likely to have to help pay for.

Meanwhile, the captain of the 47,000-tonne ship was on bail at a secret location, his identity suppressed for fear of vigilante action against him.

It was revealed yesterday the captain – a Fillipino – celebrated his 44th birthday the evening Rena ploughed into Astrolabe Reef. It is not known whether alcohol was a factor in the crash.

Oil responder Bruce Goff with the Terminator oil skimmer ready for deployment. on Sunday, October 23.
Oil responder Bruce Goff with the Terminator oil skimmer ready for deployment. on Sunday, October 23.
Debris covered in oil have wash-up at Waihau Bay on the East Cape where Taika Waititi's Boy was filmed.
Debris covered in oil have wash-up at Waihau Bay on the East Cape where Taika Waititi's Boy was filmed.
EN MASSE: Protesters march against deep sea drilling in Tauranga, ahead of the appearance of the Rena's captain and navigator in court.
EN MASSE: Protesters march against deep sea drilling in Tauranga, ahead of the appearance of the Rena's captain and navigator in court.
IN NUMBERS: Protesters march against deep sea drilling in Tauranga.
IN NUMBERS: Protesters march against deep sea drilling in Tauranga.
MAKING A STAND: Protesters gather outside the Tauranga District Court ahead of the appearances of the Rena's captain and navigator on Wednesday, October 19.
MAKING A STAND: Protesters gather outside the Tauranga District Court ahead of the appearances of the Rena's captain and navigator on Wednesday, October 19.
AGAINST DRILLING: Protesters march against offshore drilling ahead of the appearances of the Rena's captain and navigator in the Tauranga District Court on Wednesday, October 19.
AGAINST DRILLING: Protesters march against offshore drilling ahead of the appearances of the Rena's captain and navigator in the Tauranga District Court on Wednesday, October 19.
Wellington Zoo vet Baukje Lenting with a Little Blue Penguin that is at Tauranga’s  Bird Recovery Centre having oil cleaned from it using a toothbrush.
Wellington Zoo vet Baukje Lenting with a Little Blue Penguin that is at Tauranga’s Bird Recovery Centre having oil cleaned from it using a toothbrush.
PM John Key visits the Bird recovery Centre where he watches Little blue Penguins that have been cleaned of oil.
PM John Key visits the Bird recovery Centre where he watches Little blue Penguins that have been cleaned of oil.
Advice about wildlife that may be affected by the Rena oil spill, at Mt Maunganui.
Advice about wildlife that may be affected by the Rena oil spill, at Mt Maunganui.
A seagull shows the effects of the spilt oil at Makatu.
A seagull shows the effects of the spilt oil at Makatu.
Containers on Mount Maunganui Beach.
Containers on Mount Maunganui Beach.
Volunteers clean up packets of burger patties from the broken container washed up on Mount Maunganui Beach.
Volunteers clean up packets of burger patties from the broken container washed up on Mount Maunganui Beach.
Prime Minister John Key attended a public meeting in Papamoa and went in a helicopter to see the Rena.
Prime Minister John Key attended a public meeting in Papamoa and went in a helicopter to see the Rena.
ON THE MOVE: A container is hauled off the beach.
ON THE MOVE: A container is hauled off the beach.
A little blue penguin awaits transportation to the National Oiled Wildlife Recovery Centre in Tauranga.
A little blue penguin awaits transportation to the National Oiled Wildlife Recovery Centre in Tauranga.
SCATTERED: Containers on the beach just south of Mount Maunganui.
SCATTERED: Containers on the beach just south of Mount Maunganui.
SALVAGE:Containers sit in the water on Mt Maunganui beach. Pictured Friday, October 14.
SALVAGE:Containers sit in the water on Mt Maunganui beach. Pictured Friday, October 14.
STRANDED: One of the Rena's broken containers which washed up on Mt Maunganui beach. Pictured Friday, October 14.
STRANDED: One of the Rena's broken containers which washed up on Mt Maunganui beach. Pictured Friday, October 14.
PULLED ASHORE: One of the Rena's broken containers which washed up on Mt Maunganui beach. Pictured Friday, October 14.
PULLED ASHORE: One of the Rena's broken containers which washed up on Mt Maunganui beach. Pictured Friday, October 14.
Oil scooped from the surface of the water inside the Rena shipwreck's 1km exclusion zone.
Oil scooped from the surface of the water inside the Rena shipwreck's 1km exclusion zone.
Oil booms are prepared at the Maketu Estuary in the Bay of Plenty, Thursday October 13.
Oil booms are prepared at the Maketu Estuary in the Bay of Plenty, Thursday October 13.
Territorial soldiers from Auckland clean up Papamoa Beach, near Tauranga, Thursday October 13.
Territorial soldiers from Auckland clean up Papamoa Beach, near Tauranga, Thursday October 13.
Containers washed up at Papamoa Beach, Thursday October 13.
Containers washed up at Papamoa Beach, Thursday October 13.
Two containers seen at Papamoa Beach on Thursday October 13.
Two containers seen at Papamoa Beach on Thursday October 13.
The clean-up operation on Papamoa Beach, Thursday October 13.
The clean-up operation on Papamoa Beach, Thursday October 13.
Oil on Papamoa Beach, Thursday October 13.
Oil on Papamoa Beach, Thursday October 13.
Packets of meat patties from a container off the Rena have washed up on Mt Maunganui beach.
Packets of meat patties from a container off the Rena have washed up on Mt Maunganui beach.
Police check a container that has washed up on Mt Maunganui beach.
Police check a container that has washed up on Mt Maunganui beach.
The bleak scene as containers wash up on Mt Maunganui beach.
The bleak scene as containers wash up on Mt Maunganui beach.
A man walks on Mt Maunganui Beach, with a container from the stricken Rena in the distance, Thursday October 13.
A man walks on Mt Maunganui Beach, with a container from the stricken Rena in the distance, Thursday October 13.
A woman walks past a container from the stricken Rena, washed up on Mt Maunganui Beach, Thursday October 13.
A woman walks past a container from the stricken Rena, washed up on Mt Maunganui Beach, Thursday October 13.
A container from the stricken Rena, washed up on Mt Maunganui Beach, Thursday October 13.
A container from the stricken Rena, washed up on Mt Maunganui Beach, Thursday October 13.
Oil washes up on Papamoa Beach.
Oil washes up on Papamoa Beach.
WAITING COLLECTION: Scores of bags full of oil await collection in Papamoa.
WAITING COLLECTION: Scores of bags full of oil await collection in Papamoa.
LOADING: Bags full of oil are collected from the beach at Papamoa.
LOADING: Bags full of oil are collected from the beach at Papamoa.
CLEAN-UP: Papamoa beach is covered with oil sludge
CLEAN-UP: Papamoa beach is covered with oil sludge
SPOILED: Papamoa beach is covered in oil
SPOILED: Papamoa beach is covered in oil
CRIPPLED: A wandering albatross covered in oil in Tauranga
CRIPPLED: A wandering albatross covered in oil in Tauranga
SOILED: Oil blobs at the Maketu shoreline
SOILED: Oil blobs at the Maketu shoreline
CLEAN-UP: Volunteers collecting oil sludge from the beach at Papamoa
CLEAN-UP: Volunteers collecting oil sludge from the beach at Papamoa
CLEAN-UP: Volunteers help clean up the oil from the beach at Papamoa
CLEAN-UP: Volunteers help clean up the oil from the beach at Papamoa
COVERED: A bird lies dead on Mt Maunganui beach today.
COVERED: A bird lies dead on Mt Maunganui beach today.
Tauranga resident Chris Munro on Mt Maunganui beach, Wednesday morning.
Tauranga resident Chris Munro on Mt Maunganui beach, Wednesday morning.
Environment Minister Nick Smith (centre) and Transport Minister Steven Joyce (right) at a public meeting in Tauranga to discuss the unfolding disaster.
Environment Minister Nick Smith (centre) and Transport Minister Steven Joyce (right) at a public meeting in Tauranga to discuss the unfolding disaster.
DEBRIS: Oil residues on Omanu beach at the 5 1/2 km beach entry point, Tuesday morning. Photographer Todd Murdoch says: 'I could smell the oil close to my house which is located 1km back from the beach.'
DEBRIS: Oil residues on Omanu beach at the 5 1/2 km beach entry point, Tuesday morning. Photographer Todd Murdoch says: 'I could smell the oil close to my house which is located 1km back from the beach.'
CASUALTY: One of the penguins that died following the oil spill. This was found at Papamoa just after high tide today.
CASUALTY: One of the penguins that died following the oil spill. This was found at Papamoa just after high tide today.
UNSURVIVABLE: A bird that has been washed up on the beach, coated in oil.
UNSURVIVABLE: A bird that has been washed up on the beach, coated in oil.
LONG JOB: Volunteers help clean up the oil from the beach at Mt Maunganui.
LONG JOB: Volunteers help clean up the oil from the beach at Mt Maunganui.
Oil on the beach near Mount Maunganui.
Oil on the beach near Mount Maunganui.
Sunny, 9 years, with his dead fish on Mt Maunganui beach.
Sunny, 9 years, with his dead fish on Mt Maunganui beach.

The ship's second officer – who was in charge of navigation – was arrested last night, and was due to appear in court in Tauranga this morning. He is charged with operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk. Both men face possible penalties including up to a year in prison or a $10,000 fine.

Overnight, heavy seas inflicted more damage on the vessel, which has leaked a further 350 tonnes of fuel which was washing ashore in the Bay of Plenty. Oily waves had pushed past protective booms at Maketu, 40km south, threatening colonies of endangered birds.

At least 70 containers are believed to have toppled from the deck, at least 11 of which are believed to contain toxic material. Some have washed up on nearby Motiti Island.

Last night, Maritime New Zealand said cracks had appeared in the hull as the vessel – which remains stuck off Tauranga Harbour – shifted with the waves.

It has now been over a week since it became stranded and MNZ said there was real concern the stern of the vessel might break away.

The salvors had three tugs mobilised either to hold the stern on the reef while further effort is made to remove the oil, or to tow the stern to shallow water where they will remove the oil.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister John Key is pledging to use the full force of the law to recover costs from those responsible for the environmental damage caused by the Rena. However, he said the taxpayer might have to pick up some of the tab.

Environment Minister Nick Smith said there was a limitation on the level of liability of the owner of the vessel.

But there were provisions under other laws, such as the Resource Management Act, that allowed some recovery. Fines of up to $600,000 were possible.

"The Government is seeking further advice on the extent to which we can hold the shipping company liable. You can be reassured that the Government is going the full length and would use the full force of the law to ensure the maximum level recovery from those responsible for this environmental disaster." Defending the Government's reaction, he said he was keen to make decisions on the basis of the best technical response.

In the case of the Pacific Adventurer disaster in Queensland in 2009, under political pressure large excavators were put on the beach.

"While that may have looked good short-term, it was the wrong thing to do environmentally," Dr Smith said. He denied the Government had been slow to respond, saying there had been ill-informed comment that did not take into account the damage to pipes that had to be replaced before the oil could be taken off. There was now about 1300 tonnes of oil in the two aft tanks out of the 1700 tonnes that had been on board.

The tanks had been sealed so that if the vessel sank the oil would be contained.

A number of containers have now come off the vessel. Those remaining continue to move, making it dangerous for salvage crews to work on board due to the about 80 tonnes of hazardous goods. Six vessels have been mobilised to intercept the drifting debris in the water.

MNZ National on Scene Commander Nick Quinn was confident that he had the resources to cope with the disaster. "Our experience means we have been preparing for a worst-case scenario right from the start. We already have hundreds of well-trained responders from a number of organisations across land, sea and air operations, and have access to more if we need them."

  -With Fairfax

Waikato Times