Rena – New Zealands Worst Environmental Disaster

MERT Worldwide – Maritime Emergency Response Training:

Rena; 5 October 2011 – 5 October 2012.

1. The following article is from the New Zealand Herald:

“Rena owner settles with New Zealand Government” Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee
has hailed a compensation deal with the owners of the Rena a success, despite it falling up

to $20 million short of the taxpayer bill for the ship’s grounding. Daina Shipping Company
will pay $27.6 million to settle the claims of the Crown and several public bodies – including
Maritime New Zealand – over the grounding at Astrolabe Reef on October 5 last year. That
could rise to $38 million if the company gains resource consent to leave part of the wreck
of the Rena in place at the reef. The Crown has paid about $47 million so far for the Rena
salvage and clean-up operation”.

2. The Rena Ran Aground – Astrolabe Reef:

Did you notice how easy it was to read the dollar figures (underlined) in this article? Daina Shipping and their insurer(s) must be feeling the financial burden of this significant incident. The Rena ran aground on the Astrolabe Reef just off the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island. The hull was breached below the waterline and as a result of that, it was only a matter of time before the sea would claim another ship victim. The sad thing about this incident is that it was preventable and now the ship owners and their insurers have to pay out millions of dollars in claim settlements.

3. Poor Judgement and Bad Decision Making:

The cause of this incident was human error. It wasn’t the weather conditions or sea state. It wasn’t a defect with navigational equipment or operator error. It was simply poor judgment and decision making. The purpose of this article is to discuss “Safety Culture”, “Duty of Care” and Onboard Safety Training. It is not to lay blame.

Safety at sea is paramount, so where does ship safety start? The International Maritime Organisation or IMO refers to ship safety as: “A safety culture of self regulation – this is where every member of the crew takes responsibility for ships safety and duty of care.

4. Safety Culture, Duty of Care and Quality Training:

To support the safety culture and duty of care, quality training is required. Training must be well planned and conducted by creditable trainers. It must be realistic, challenging, culturally sensitive, and enjoyable therefore catering for adult learner needs. It must have achievable aims and objectives. The training report will identify ships strengths and weaknesses. It will provide solutions and recommendations to improve safety standards. All training must be supported by Design, Develop and Deliver (DDD) principals and contain relevant assessments. These are the fundamentals of quality training and good training means safer ships.

5. Lessons Learned:

How can owners limit the risk of this type of incident happening again? That is the million dollar question or in Rena’s case the $38 million dollar question. There is no one correct answer. But by investing in quality training, ship owners and insurers are demonstrating their support for a better “Safety Culture” and a positive step towards limiting this type of incident happening again – “This is their Duty of Care”

MERT Worldwide – Maritime Emergency Response Training

Maritime NZ


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