11th May 2017
On 5th October 2011 the 3351 the containership RENA grounded on the Astrolabe Reef in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. TMC surveyors attended the RENA salvage and wreck reduction operations in Tauranga as the technical and on site representatives for the Owner and their P&I Club since the 2011 grounding. During that time the operation has transitioned through the operational phases of emergency response, wreck reduction including debris removal and target cargo recovery through that of legal argument. The operation phase was completed on 5th April 2016, exactly four and half years after the grounding and resulted in the removed all the debris from wreck and cargo. This has facilitated the regeneration and recovery of the reef’s flora and fauna. Apart from supervising the operational aspects, TMC played an important role in the owner’s RENA Project Team.
The team’s primary task was the preparation of the Resource Consent Application to the New Zealand Environment Court to leave the remains of the wreck in situ. The Project team also liaised with the government, community and Maori tribal groups. This enabled a broader understanding of the complexity and difficulty of the offshore operations whilst in return; the team garnered an appreciation of the wreck’s consequences on cultural values. TMC’s role also involved the development and implementation of the scientific environmental sampling program, Wreck Access Plan and the Volunteer Coast Guard’s “Reef Watch”. These programs facilitated the smooth and safe transition of the Astrolabe reef and RENA wreck from an industrial work site to one of community amenity. In March 2017, TMC Directors Colin Barker (Naval Architecture and Master Mariner) and Captain Roger King (Master Mariner) provided expert evidence in the Environment Court hearing before Judges Smith and Fox. The Environment Court hearing was brought about by the appeal of a small number of parties dissatisfied with the 2016 decision handed down by the Regional Council Hearing granting consent to leave the remains of the wreck in situ. The latest judgement is due to be handed down by July 2017.