1 Jan 2012

Rena just holding together

8:20 am on 1 January 2012

Maritime New Zealand says rough weather in the Bay of Plenty has seen the cracks in the Rena widen significantly and there is now very little holding the stricken container ship together.


Commander Mick Courtnell says cracks midway along the hull are now significant splits and an onboard camera is clearly showing containers inside the vessel.

The stranded vessel was pounded by swells of between 4 - 4.5 metres on Saturday.

Mr Courtnell says the forward part of the ship is firmly wedged on the Astrolabe reef while the stern has been trying to tear itself free from the rest of the vessel ever since it ran aground.

Maritime New Zealand, in a media release, says there is no evidence to confirm the vessel has split apart.

It says a fly-over inspection on Saturday afternoon has revealed more oil has leaked and at least one more container has fallen off the vessel.

As the weather improves, salvors will be put on board to assess the situation.

Svitzer Salvage spokesperson Brian Dale says the state of the ship is a concern, butmost of the oil on the Rena has been removed.

He says there is still a small amount of oil in the hold, which is moving as the vessel moves and being picked up by the swells.

He says salvors will skim the oil off when they are able to get to work again.

Earlier, Mr Courtnell said a significant amount of oil is trapped in the duct keel - which runs along the centre of the ship - and was likely to be washed on to local beaches in the "very, very rough" conditions.

He says Maritime New Zealand's trajectory modelling indicates any released oil would come ashore between Omanu and the western side of the Maketu spit.

The Rena grounded on Astrolable Reef on 5 October. The captain and navigation officer are facing charges over the incident.