The Waikato Times of New Zealand reports that the 236-meter Liberian flagged container ship, M/V Rena aground on Astrolabe Reef yesterday about 6 nautical miles from the nearest harbour. The vessel is currently leaking oil, taking on water and contains hazardous and explosive cargo. Rumors of alcohol being involved in the collision have alarmed local reporters, and local authorities have not been able to board the vessel to administer alcohol and drug tests to the crew.
Local fishermen remarked that the reef was “well marked on charts and the first or chief officer would have had to have created a track around the reef and had it confirmed before setting off”.
AIS data confirms that Rena was doing a steady 17 knots (31 kmh) when it ran aground at around 2.30am yesterday.
The local Coast Guard authority, Maritime New Zealand (MZN), believes the vessel is carrying 2017 containers and some have been identified as carrying dangerous goods. The agency continues to monitor the stability of the vessel via overflights of the scene and reports that the bow is damaged and taking on water but the vessel’s pumps appear to be keeping up with the inflow of seawater. MZN also reports that a “light sheen” of oil was observed surrounding the vessel.
Maritime Executive reports that a controller for the incident, Renny van der Velde, said 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.
25 crew members, reported to be Filipinos, sustained no injuries but have yet to be evacuated.