The captain and second officer of the containership Rena, which went aground on Astrolabe Reef off Tauranga, New Zealand last October, were sentenced Friday to up to seven months in prison.
The two men pleaded guilty to all charges laid against them by Maritime New Zealand, the government agency responsible for maritime safety, security and environment protection.
The government laid six charges against the master, Mauro Balomaga, and five charges against the second officer, Leonil Relon, following the grounding.
Keith Manch, Maritime New Zealand’s director, said the two senior officers, who were responsible for the navigation of the ship, had breached basic principles of safe navigation.
The agency said “after a passage plan for the journey from Napier to Tauranga had been prepared, the master had given approval for the second officer to deviate from the plan to make good time. These alterations were not adequately recorded or an amended passage plan developed. Neither were the alterations verified using appropriate navigational methods.”
Nearly 8 months after the accident, salvage of the Rena, which has since split in half, continues. On Thursday, Maritime New Zealand said the number of containers recovered from the ship was 815 out of the 1,368 containers that had been on the ship.
In February, New Zealand Environment Minister Nick Smith told Parliament that a crude estimate of the total costs of the wreck was 130 million New Zealand dollars ($98 million), of which the bulk was for salvaging fuel and the ship itself. – Chris Dupin