Ship Stranded On New Zealand Reef Laden With 1,700 Tons of Fuel

By MarEx 2011-10-05 12:19:40

The New Zealand Herald reports that a large cargo ship, the 236-meter Rena, has struck a reef near the Tauranga Port on Wednesday morning, spilling hydraulic oil from the vessel into the water.

The 47,000-ton, Liberian-flagged cargo ship struck the Astrolabe Reef around 2:20 am and while News24 reports that there is a “light sheen” of oil, the vessel’s fuel tanks are still intact without the threat of a major environmental hazard.  Maritime New Zealand officials confirmed that all of the crewman remain safe and without injury.

Maritime NZ officials stated when only light oil sheen is detected around a vessel, it is assessed as hydraulic engine oil and not a fuel tank rupture.  They added that as far as they can tell, the ship is held very firmly aground and is stable despite a 10 degree list.  The NZ Herald says that Rena’s captain is in discussion with the owner as well as salvage experts on how to best maneuver the ship off of the reef.  Despite swift actions to address the removal, it could be weeks or even months before the ship can be floated off the reef, according to NZ experts. 

PHOTO: Cargo ship, Rena

A controller for the incident, Renny van der Velde, went to say that although it does not pose an imminent threat, oil spill response teams are on standby just in case something is to go wrong during the salvage efforts. 

Two cargo holds on the Rena have been flooded, and currently pumps are being used to eradicate the water aboard, as well as fuel on port side being transferred to starboard. 

Wildlife experts from Massey University have also arrived at the scene to support the response team and prepare plans for wildlife management operations.

The incident is being monitored and investigated, and its unknown will salvage operations will commence.