Tilting ship breaking apart in rough seas off New Zealand coast

 
October 12, 2011TAURANGA, New ZealandA cargo ship that has spilled hundreds of tons of oil since striking a reef off New Zealand’s coast appeared to be breaking up in heavy seas, as its captain faced criminal charges in court Wednesday. A vertical crack was apparent from the deck to the waterline of the Liberian-flagged Rena, which ran aground Oct. 5 on Astrolabe Reef, 14 miles (22 kilometers) from Tauranga Harbour on New Zealand’s North Island. About 70 containers have fallen off the deck of the 775-foot (236-meter) vessel as it has listed increasingly in the worsening ocean conditions. Maritime New Zealand, which is managing the emergency response, described the crack as a “substantial structural failure” and warned that the stern may break away. Three tug boats were mobilized to hold the stern on the reef while efforts are made to remove the oil from the ship, or to tow the stern to shallow water, the agency said in a statement. Weather on the reef was terrible Wednesday, with swells up to 16 feet (5 meters), Maritime New Zealand spokesman Steve Jones told The Associated Press. The brutal conditions were making it impossible for a salvage crew to board the ship, he said. Without the salvage crew aboard, oil cannot be pumped out of the ship. “It’s appalling,” Jones said of the weather. “Everything is still in a holding pattern.” Forecasters were predicting the swells would ease to 6 feet (2 meters) by Thursday, at which point salvage crews might be able to try to board the ship, Jones said. The piles of containers that remain on deck have continued to move, making it dangerous for salvage crews to work on board. Six vessels have been mobilized to intercept the drifting containers and other debris in the water. There were 1,368 containers on board, 11 of which contained hazardous substances, the maritime agency said. The containers with hazardous materials were not among the 70 that had fallen overboard, Jones said. Still, it is highly likely that more containers will topple off because of the rough weather and the ship’s steep list, he said. –Yahoo News
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11 Responses to Tilting ship breaking apart in rough seas off New Zealand coast

  1. Ynot says:

    The ship sat on the reef for 4 days in perfect weather conditions but they didn’t pump any fuel off because it was the ships owners responsibility, not maritime NZ problem. Then the weather deterioated causing the ship to break apart and leak tonnes of crude oil into the sea. Now they have an environmental disaster with oil and containers floating in the sea – hundreds of birds are dead, large areas off coastline have been poisoned by the oil and the beaches are black.
    The national government is deeply concerned…….. with the impact on the votes they will lose in the coming elections (six weeks) and by the way, the boat owners are only financially obliged to pay mimimum contribution for clean up and it looks like the kiwi tax payer will pick up the tag.
    The world turns on money and oil and the environment comes last on the list – and we wonder why the world is a shallow hell bent on self destruction? – I think the Earth will breath a sigh off relief when humans are gone (or reduced to managable numbers) – we won’t be remembered for our pyramids just our toxic waste.

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    • nickk0 says:

      ” The ship sat on the reef for 4 days in perfect weather conditions but they didn’t pump any fuel off because it was the ships owners responsibility, not maritime NZ problem. ”

      I see some parallels here….. With Fukushima, and the Gulf-Of-Mexico oil disaster.

      How is it, that the ‘owners’ of the problem, never seem to ‘own’ up to a disaster, when one occurs ??
      And that the local governments, enable them to get away with it ??

      – Nick

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  2. nanoduck says:

    Most of the stuff in the containers are probably imported junk from China. When will the governments and companies claim responsibility for their needless waste and exploitation of earth’s resources? With the world population approaching 7 billion, we can’t keep up with this standard of living…eventually we will run out of one thing or another, or something will fail and cause needless suffering for, not millions, but billions of people. People need to learn to cut back and make do without some things.

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    • victa says:

      I don’t believe there is imported junk from China on this ship, I stand to be corrected. I believe there are many of our countrys exports to the world on board….food…milk products…recycling…it is indeed a huge tragedy, no words can describe the destruction being caused.

      Like

  3. El's Friend says:

    You said it exactly!

    Like

  4. athenakiwi says:

    Nanoduck, These containers are mostly exports, timber and goods for overseas markets. There are a,so containers of household goods and cars belonging to kiwis going to live overseas. There is very little imports in these containers as the ship was collecting goods from our ports to take overseas. Yes this is a massive disaster and the most popular beaches in NZ are being wrecked. Not to mention the best fishing grounds and wildlife (it is not called the Bay of Plenty for nothing). Charter fishing and doplphin watching tours operate in this area and their businesses are wrecked. This ship has been in trouble before in other countries but we cant find out what for – maybe the captain is a drunk – who knows. And yes us kiwis will be the ones to pay – on top of the cost of the Christchurch earthquakes which is being loaded onto our insurances. At least they were not man made but this disaster was prefventable and the big businesses that run these ships will not have to pay the costs to our environment and livelihoods. It sucks.

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    • athenakiwi says:

      Yes the ship hit the reef within NZ waters well within the 12 mile zone. Just heard that the maximum liability of the shipowners for cleanup is a mere $NZ12 million due to our govt ineptitude when it could have been over double that amount under curent maritime law. The oil is spreading further onto more southern beaches and endangered birds are being taken away to keep them until their habitat is safe. Most of this coastline is beautiful golden sand beaches with up to four harbours and estuaries that are now in danger. The sea is ilttered with floating containers and their contents which are washing up on the beaches.The ship is now breaking up and they have yet to get any of the rest of the oil off. They might be able to start that tomorrow if it doesnt break in two.

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  5. Sherriff says:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10758930

    Civil liability is capped at 14million through insurance, clean up has cost 12.1 so far. Ship has yet to be removed, though it is speculated that it may be left to break up.

    Like

  6. Grey Wolf says:

    ok they could fix this 2 ways one is get the containers off the side listing and put them on the shore…cargo helo’s can do this with 2 men on the ship for hook up would reduce cost and also cause less weight on the ship then they need to remove the oil and then charge the company for them doing it as they haven’t done anything this would lessen the impact or even stop it from the whole ship flipping over and breaking up

    Like

  7. watching from NZ says:

    as of last week they had removed all the oil, now the task of getting the containers off has begun which “could take up to 12months”. by then it will probably be off the reef and make a nice diving location!

    there was great footage of 50+ little blue penguins being released back to the wild if you want a “how cute” moment in these dark days

    Like

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