Master and second officer could be jailed over environmental damage from shipwreck
Two senior officers from the Rena, the cargo ship grounded on a New Zealand reef for almost a month, are to face further charges, the country’s shipping authority has announced.
The Rena caused New Zealand’s worst environmental crisis after it ran aground on Astrolabe Reef, off Tauranga, nearly three weeks ago, leaking hundreds of tonnes of oil.
The master of the Liberian-flagged Rena and its second officer have already been charged with operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk. They were remanded on bail by the Tauranga District Court.
The charge carries a maximum fine of NZ$10,000 (US$8,000) or a jail term of up to 12 months.
Yesterday Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) said it was laying a further charge against the two men relating to the “discharge of harmful substances from ships or offshore installations”.
Conviction could mean a fine of $300,000 or two years in prison, as well as a fine of $10,000 for every day the offending continued, said an MNZ statement.
The court ordered the identities of the master and second officer to be suppressed and there have been reports that 19 of the Rena’s 25 Filipino crew had been hurried out of Tauranga amid fears for their safety, as local frustration grew.