Topic: Timeline: Rena Disaster

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When Rena grounded on 5 October 2011 it had repercussions that were devastating for the environment and community of the Bay of Plenty. This timeline is an attempt to record the sequence of events related to the disaster.

Archived verion here.

'MV Rena was built in Germany for an Israeli company to American dimensions and, at the time of her stranding, was registered in Liberia, owned by a Greek concern, chartered by a Swiss multinational, insured by the Swedish P&I Club and crewed by Filipinos' (Black Tide by John Julian, p. 21). She would be salvaged by Svitzer of Denmark.

16 February 1827

  • The reef known as Otaiti to local Maori is renamed Astrolabe by captain of the French corvette Astrolabe Jules Sébastien César Dumont d’Urville after his ship nearly runs aground there.

7 April 1828

  • Church Missionary Society schooner Herald with Reverend Henry Williams on board has a 'close encounter' with what was most likely the Astrolabe Reef.


  • Position of the reef accurately charted by surveyors on board the H.M.S. Pandora.

13 January 1878

  • Schooner Nellie wrecked on the Astrolabe Reef during the night.


  • Zim America (1990-2007) laid down on 4 October 1989.
  • Built for the Israeli shipping company Zim by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG in Kiel, Germany.
  • Delivered on 1 April 1990 and registered in Haifa, Israel (1990-2004). 
  • 236-metre (774 ft) long Panamax container ship.
  • 37,209 tons gross registered tonnage, and 47,000 tonnes deadweight (i.e., what it can carry).
  • Container capacity of 3,351 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) in seven holds.
  •  Breadth of 32.2 metres (106 ft).
  • A draught of 12 metres (39 ft) fullen laden. 
  • Propelled by a single eight-cylinder Cegielski-Sulzer 8RTA76 two-stroke low-speed diesel engine directly coupled to a fixed-pitch propeller.
  • Main engine maximum output of 21,996 kW (29,497 hp) at 98 rpm.
  • Engine burned 90 tons of heavy fuel oil per day.
  • Service speed of 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph).


  • Registered in Valletta, Malta (2004–2010).


  • Zim America renamed Andaman Sea (2007-2010).


  • Andaman Sea bought and renamed Rena (2010-2011) by the Greek shipping company Costamare Inc. through one of its subsidiaries, Daina Shipping Co.
  • Registered in the port of Monrovia in Liberia.


  •  Daina Shipping Company signs a five-year charter for Rena with the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC).

5 July 2011

  • The Rena was inspected in China and was found to have 18 deficiencies, Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) said. Twelve deficiencies had to be resolved before the ship could depart and six had to rectified with 14 days. The Chinese Port State Control Officer did not return to the ship to clear the deficiencies before the ship departed, but the ship signalled that the deficiencies had been rectified.

21 July 2011

  • Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) said 17 deficiencies were found when the Rena was inspected at Freemantle, Western Australia. Sixteen deficiencies were resolved within two days.

28 September 2011

  • A MNZ safety inspector visited the Rena in Bluff but did not conduct an inspection of the vessel. MNZ said one deficiency remained against the ship but it "was not sufficient to warrant detention". The deficiency related to how the vessel implemented the International Safety Management system, which is an international process on ship operations and systems. It had to be resolved within three months. However, the ship's owner Costamare Shipping Company S.A. said there were no outstanding recommendations from the Freemantle inspection.

2 October 2011

  • Rena had a close encounter with another vessel, the Torea at about 2am. The master of the Torea ship told MNZ that it had to take a 360 degree "precautionary" turn after the Rena overtook the vessel.

4 October 2011

  • At 9.20am the Rena container ship departs Napier for Tauranga with 25 crew on board. Captain is Mauro Balomaga, aged 44, and navigation officer Leonil Relon, aged 37.
  • The Rena is earning a modest charter rate of US$15,000 per day.

5 October 2011

  • 2.14am: Rena, a Liberia flagged 235m vessel, was heading to Tauranga from Napier when it crashed into the Astrolabe Reef, about 2km north of Motiti Island. MNZ said the cargo ship, which was carrying 1700 tonnes of heavy oil fuel and 200 tonnes of diesel, was on a 10 degree list and some fuel had leaked from its hydraulic pumps.

6 October 2011

  • An early morning flight by MNZ confirmed an oil slick stretching 2 kilometres.
  • Four dead birds were found, covered in oil. An oiled wildlife response team was mobilised.
  • The Director of Maritime New Zealand issued the owners with two notices. One, that a reputable salvor be appointed. Two, that MNZ could take control if it deemed it necessary and the vessel owner must comply with the National On Scene Commander's directions.
  • Rena's Greek owners appoint long-establised salvage company Svitzer of Denmark.
  • Ocean towing and salvage company Smit make their crane barge Smit Borneo available for charter to remove Rena's containers. The large barge will be towed from Singapore by a deep-sea tug and take almost 30 days to reach Tauranga waters.
  • The dispersant corexit is used to break up the oil but the results were inconclusive.
  • Divers inspect the hull of the Rena.

7 October 2011 

  • Six teams of responders are deployed and joined by 10 more teams on Saturday.
  • A Dutch naval architect arrives to begin calculations and formulate a salvage plan.
  • MNZ says the leak is difficult to stop due to ‘considerable damage’ to the Rena
  • Four little blue penguins and two shags affected by oil were rescued from Motiti Island.

'Gannet in Oil'  acrylic on canvas (2011) by Elliot Mason..

8 October 2011

  • Fresh oil is spotted leaking from the cargo ship, which is on an 11 degree list, port side.
  • Specialists from around New Zealand and Australia join the more than 100 member strong oil spill response team led by MNZ.
  • Three hundred defence force personnel are on standby.
  • Large tugboat from Auckland arrives.
  • Oil was moved within the vessel to get it away from the damaged parts of the hull.

9 October 2011

  • Oil recovery teams head out on the water to collect oil.
  • About 10 tonnes of oil is pumped from the Rena to the bunker barge Awanuia but hampered by bad weather, equipment breakdown and hazardous and changeable conditions.
  • Graham Hoete (Mr G) and Owen Dippie (OD) paint a protest mural “Less Hui, More Do-Ey” on a container outside the Papamoa Beach Road shops in protest as what he sees as a lack of urgent action being taken to stop oil spilling from the sticken Rena. 

    Rena mural by Tauranga artist Graeme Hoete (Mr G) and Owen Dippie 

10 October 2011

  • 3500 tonnes of oily water has been recovered and offloaded at the Port of Tauranga.
  • Clumps of oil are found washed up on Mt Maunganui beaches and at the southern end of Matakana Island.
  • Weather conditions prevented the Awanuia from connecting with the Rena and offloading any more oil. The Awanuia also crashed into the Rena, sustaining some damage but was repaired within a day.
  • The public is warned to stay away from beaches and not to touch the highly toxic oil.

11 October 2011

  • Between 200 and 300 tonnes of oil has spilled into the ocean, MNZ confirms.
  • The Rena moves to a six degree list during an overnight storm, making it more stable but rough sea conditions prevent any oil from being removed.
  • The ship's crew makes a mayday call in the morning and are evacuated via helicopters and on a Navy vessel. The crew shuts down all systems before leaving the ship.
  • The Rena tips over to the other side and is leaning at an 18 degree list, starboard side, at about 9pm.
  • The Wildlife Response Centre is caring for 17 oiled birds and have counted a total of 53 dead birds so far.
  • More oil washes ashore.

12 October 2011

  • Approximately 70 of the 1368 containers on board have come off the Rena and are now in the water. MNZ said 11 containers containing hazardous substances were still on the vessel.
  • A thick slick of oil coats Motiti Island and many Bay of Plenty beaches.
  • The Master of Rena is charged under section 65 of the Maritime Transport Act (MTA) 1994, "for operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk". He appeared in the Tauranga District Court in the morning and was granted name suppression. It was announced later in the evening that the second officer, who was in charge of navigation, was charged with the same offence.
  • Cracks start to appear in the vessel, including one large crack down the middle of the ship.
  • Seventeen kilometres of coastline are cleared of oil, according to MNZ.
  • Prime Minister John Key tells the nation that New Zealand tax payers will have to foot part of the bill for the salvage and clean up if the ship's insurance didn't cover the full costs.
  • The exclusion zone around Rena is extended from 2.7km to 45km by 40km.

13 October 2011

  • Environment Minister Nick Smith describes the Rena stranding as New Zealand’s ‘worst maritime environmental disaster’.
  • A total of 88 containers have fallen from the ship.
  • The second officer appears in court and has been remanded on bail until 19 October. Both crew members that were charged had to surrender their passports.
  • Five hundred volunteers clean oil off beaches from Whangamata to Whakatane. Public access to beaches is restricted.
  • The Wildlife Response Centre confirms at least 200 birds have been found dead and expects that number to rise "significantly". Three seals and more than 50 birds are in the centre's care.
  • Diamantis Manos, managing director of Costamare Shipping Company S.A apologises to Tauranga residents and New Zealanders for the "disastrous event".
  • MNZ stops using the controversial dispersant corexit, saying its use so far has proved insufficient.
  • Prime Minister John Key said the Government would consider temporary assistance to help individuals and businesses affected by the Rena disaster.
  • Scientists from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric research say westerly winds predicted for the next three days should drive the oil east, away from the coastline.
  • Salvage teams return to the ship to reboot all systems which were shut down on Tuesday. The systems need to be working so the oil is heated, which means it can be removed.
  • Between 350 and 400 tonnes of oil has leaked since the Rena grounded, MNZ confirms. It believes the remaining oil is in the duct keel and hopes to be able to remove it from the vessel tomorrow.
  • Diamantis Manos, Managing Director of Costamare Shipping Company S.A., the registered owner of the Rena, makes a public statement.

14 October 2011

  • Salvors work overnight to build four platforms, which are attached to the Rena to help with fuel recovery operations.
  • 3000 volunteers have registered to help clean up the beaches.
  • 220 tonnes of waste has been removed from beaches.
  • More than 1000 birds have been found dead.

15 October 2011

  • A total of 618 tonnes of oiled sandy waste has been recovered.

16 October 2011

  • Oil starts to be pumped out of the Rena at 6.30pm. Twenty-one tonnes is pumped into the Awanuia overnight.
  • 39 wildlife crews start patrolling the coastline from Waihi through to Torere around the East Coast.

17 October 2011

  • Seventy tonnes of oil is removed from the vessel.
  • Patties of oil reach White Island.
  • More than 5500 volunteers have registered.
  • A total of 744 tonnes of waste collected so far.

18 October 2011

  • Bad weather forces salvors to stop pumping oil from the stricken vessel.
  • A small amount of oil leaked overnight and could be seen as a sheen drifting north of the ship.
  • 1290 dead birds and four dead seal pups have been found so far.
  • The Wildlife Centre is caring for 207 live birds and three seals.

22-23 October 2011

  • Another 5-10 tonnes of oil lost overnight.

28 October 2011

  • At 10.35am the MV Schelde Trader, a 133 metre container vessel lost power and went aground just north of North Rock around the base of Mount Maunganui (Mauao), on departure from the Port of Tauranga. The vessel was re-floated and under the control of tugs outside the harbour entrance before being brought back into the harbour for inspection and investigation. No oil leaked from the vessel.

15 November 2011

  • By this date all accessible oil had been removed from the Rena.

16 November 2011

  • First container lifted off the Rena.
  • Beach access restrictions between Mount Maunganui and Maketū Estuary officially lifted after volunteers rid the beaches of oil.

22 November 2011

  • Release of 49 little blue penguins takes place after the penguins pass swim tests and veterinarian checks.

TV1 camera captures penguins getting released, Shark Alley, Mt Maunganui Nov 2011

14 December 2011

  • Tourism Bay of Plenty launches a campaign to lure visitors back to the region after images of oiled beaches and wildlife were sent around the world.

21 December 2011

  • The Rena's captain and second officer face new charges relating to the alleged altering of the ship's documents after the ship ran aground.

26 December 2011

  • By this date 341 containers removed from the Rena.

8 January 2012

  • Rena splits into two pieces during another storm.
  • 200-300 more containers lost overboard.

9 January 2012

  • Containers and debris, including packages of milk powder, timber and polystyrene, begin washing up on beaches.
  • Clean-up operations get under way again.

10 January 2012

  • By 10am 75% of the Rena’s stern section is underwater.

26 January 2012

  • Government launches long-term plan for Bay of Plenty environment recovery.

8 March 2012

  • Interim report into the grounding finds the crew took shortcuts on journey and hit reef travelling at 17 knots.

4 April 2012

  • Stern of the Rena completely sinks.
  • Front section in 23 metres of water, rear in 65 metres.

5 April 2012

  • Rena's owner, Greece-based Daina Shipping charged with discharging harmful substances into sea.

2 May 2012

  • Rena captain, Mauro Balomaga, and navigation officer, Leonil Relon, meet with local iwi on Motiti Island to apologise. On May 25 they are sentenced to seven months’ jail for offences relating to the grounding after earlier pleading guilty. On September 6 they are deported home to the Philippines.

22 September 2012

  • By this date 1003 containers brought ashore. 

5 October 2013

  • Tauranga artists hold an exhibition of Rena related artworks at Zeus Gallery.
  • An Oamaru stone frieze by Sculptor Peter Cramond featuring little blue penguins entitled ‘The Sea’s That Way’ and mounted on a plinth of salvaged wood from the Rena is unveiled at Shark Alley. Shark Alley is a beach break on Mount Maunganui’s main beach, located just on the other side of  Moturiki Island (Leisure Island).

Peter Cramond's sculpture

8 October 2013

  • Mōtītī Island receives compensation from the Rena Recovery Fund.

19 October 2013

  • 25 year old New Zealand diver working on the Rena reports experiencing breathing problems while at approximately 110 feet or 34 metres.

29 October 2013

  • 31 year old American diver's umbilical snags in two separate locations while ascending from 151 feet or 46 metres whilst working on the Rena. He had to descend again to clear both obstacles.


Cost of the clean-up: An estimated $235 million dollars.

For a list of resources at Tauranga City Libraries please follow this link: Rena grounding and oil spill


This page archived at Perma CC in November of 2016:

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Timeline: Rena Disaster