Steve's Marine Disaster Pages


In October 2011, the containeship MV RENA, was sailing around the north island of New Zealand, when (at full speed) it struck Astrolabe reef. Initially, it was though that it would be a relatively simple salvage task to free her from the reef, but the speed of the impact, had meant that the RENA was well aground in two places. It proved to be a huge task that would ultimately fail.

The weather played a significant part in this disaster, as continued bad weather hampered all attempts to get the cargo of containers off the vessel. Also, fuel oil began to leak out and pollute the shore, in a conservation area of the Bay of Plenty. Containers also were wrenched free of the vessel by the sea and also came ashore, adding to the pollution.

Eventually the weather won, and the back of the vessel broke. The stern half sank and the RENA became a Total Loss. Although the RENA was not a large container ship by modern standards and she was not carrying bulk oil as a cargo, the pollution caused by the fuel oil and containers, along with heavy fines has seen this become probably the third largest maritime insurance claim of all time (after the COSTA CONCORDIA in 2012 and the EXXON VALDEZ in 1989)


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