American Shipper

Rena owner charged in New Zealand Court

  Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) has charged the owner of the containership Rena, following the ship’s grounding on Astrolabe Reef off Tauranga on October 5. The grounding resulted in spills of fuel oil and containers and an expensive salvage effort that is ongoing.
  Maritime New Zealand said Thursday that Daina Shipping Co has been charged under section 338 (1B) and 15(B) of New Zealand’s Resource Management Act 1991, which relates to the “discharge of harmful substances from ships” in the coastal marine area. The charge carries a maximum fine of $600,000 and $10,000 for every day the offending continues.
  Daina Shipping Co is the registered owner of Rena, and has overall responsibility for the operation of the ship, MNZ said. It is part of the container ship leasing company, Costamare, which is headquartered in Athens, but its stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). (Daina and Costamare are unrelated to two other public companies in the ship leasing business– Diana Shipping, also listed on the NYSE, and Diana Containerships, listed on NASDAQ.)
  In its annual report, Costamare said the Rena was determined to be a constructive total loss for insurance purposes. It said “while we anticipate that our insurance policies will cover most costs and losses associated with the incident, such insurance may not be sufficient to cover all risks, including potential civil and criminal liabilities” and could have a material effect on its business.
  Costamare was operating the ship for Mediterranean Shipping Co. at the time.
  MNZ said the charge has been laid in the Tauranga District Court and is expected to have its first call on May 25.
  The prosecution follows the 29 February guilty pleas by the Master and Second Officer of Rena to charges laid by MNZ last year. The two men are scheduled to be sentenced in the Tauranga District Court on May 25.
  MNZ said it will make no other charges in relation to the grounding.
  Meanwhile salvage operations continue on the ship which has split in half on the reef. Of the 1,368 containers on board Rena at time of grounding, 250 containers remain below decks on the severed bow section and MNZ said it is unable to confirm how many containers remain on board the sunken Rena stern section. An estimated 267 have been lost overboard. 584 were removed from the ship by salvors and 99 recovered from the water and beaches. They were then processed ashore.
  There was around 1,712 tonnes of oil on the ship when it grounded and over 1,300 were recovered through fuel recovery operations on board the ship and around 350 tonnes of oil were released from the ship’s fuel tanks in the first week after the grounding. Chris Dupin