Friday, March 2, 2012

Storm spells further trouble to doomed 'MV Rena"


New Zealand is in the eye of the storm literally !   out there is a region known as ‘Bay of Plenty’ -  a large indentation in the northern coast of New Zealand's North Island, stretching from the Coromandel Peninsula in the west to Cape Runaway in the east, a wide stretch of some 259 km of open coastline. It was the first part of New Zealand to be settled by the Māori; the name  originated with James Cook during his 1769–70 exploration of New Zealand,  arising out of abundance of resources in that area. 

Out there, Civil defence authorities have warned  North Islanders to brace themselves for a storm which could wreak havoc overnight. Power outages, airport closures and wave surges  are expected when gale-force winds and heavy rain started showing their teeth around midnight- it is expected to pass through quickly.   Eventually, the storm hit the West Coast and Southern Alps where heavy rain was reported  with snow down to 200 metres in places. The wild weather is expected to bring extreme conditions over the next 48 hours.

That is more bad news for the ill-struck MV Rena, the 3351 TEU containership owned by the Greek shipping company Costamare Inc. The ship was built in 1990 as ZIM America for the Israeli shipping company Zim by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG in Kiel, Germany. She was renamed Andaman Sea in 2007 and  has been MV Rena since 2010.  On 5 October 2011 the Rena ran aground near Tauranga, New Zealand, resulting in an oil spill.  Worser things followed as on 8th Jan 2012, the vessel broke into two.  The vessel had caused maritime pollution as well creating environmental crisis.   It was reported that about 350 tonnes of oil spilled into the sea and was washed on to once-pristine beaches, killing at least 1,300 birds while an army of volunteers combed the coastline and saved hundreds more.

The vessel lay shattered in two piece even as salvage work, the removal of containers was on.  Salvors have been removing containers from the vessel and said before the storm hit there were an estimated 881 still on board. Only a few of the ship's original consignment of containers had hazardous cargo. Container recovery specialist Claudine Sharpe was quoted as stating that "between 200 to 300 containers" were washed overboard as the ship separated and only about 40 to 60 would have remained afloat.  Now arising out of the storm some more containers are apprehended to be lost as both sections of the ship remain open to the sea and are so vulnerable to more damage.  The listing and sinking had rendered removal of containers more difficult for the salvors. 

A large field of debris had reportedly been flowing and the authorities reportedly were considering extending the three nautical mile exclusion zone set up. 

Earlier reports had suggested that the Filipino captain and second officer of the Rena had been arrested  on multiple charges over the grounding, including operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk. They have also been charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice, which carries a seven-year jail term, amid accusations documents were altered after the grounding.  The two men are on bail but are being housed at a secret location for their own safety because of fears of a public backlash. As could happen, there have been varied opinions ranging from sympathy to call for stringent punishment in the wake of guilty pleas from the captain and watch officer.

The 2 piece Rena – Photo courtesy : guardian.co.uk

A ship is majestic when on sail – but too ugly and hideous to be seen in a broken condition.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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