Jailed Rena Officers See Early Release

Mike Schuler
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September 5, 2012

Fly-over shots of the M/V Rena stuck on the Astrolabe Reef on October 8, three days after grounding. Photo: Dudley Clemens

The Master and Second Officer of the stricken M/V Rena have been released from prison after serving only half of their seven-month sentence.

A Department of Corrections spokesman confirmed to the New Zealand Herald that the men, Captain Mauro Balomaga and navigation officer Leonil Relon, had been released from prison and were handed “straight over” to Immigration New Zealand for deportation back to the Philippines.

The men were found guilty on 11 total charges for their role in the October 5 grounding of the M/V Rena containership on Astolabe Reef in New Zealand. The men were both sentenced to 7-months imprisonment on the charges that included operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk, discharging harmful substances from ships, and willfully attempting to alter the course of justice by altering ship’s documents after the grounding.

An investigation into the grounding found that the Master and Second Officer had deviated from their original passage plan from Napier to Tauranga to save time, but failed to properly assess navigational hazards of the new plan and also did not adequately record these changes.

Balomaga and Relon began serving their 7-month sentence on May 25.

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