Rena's battered bow continues to cling to Astrolabe Reef,
hours after heavy seas and strong winds sunk her stern below
The sinking comes on the six-month anniversary of the October
5 grounding of the 236m container ship.
Waves of up to 12 metres were recorded at the wreck on
Tuesday night with winds of 50km/h and seas of 8-9m
experienced at the wreck yesterday.
Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) is today warning Western Bay's
coastal communities that the stern's sinking could see debris
and small amounts of oil spill in to the sea and wash ashore.
By yesterday afternoon a light sheen of oil stretched about
1km north-west of the wreck.
MNZ spokesman Ross Henderson said because of rough seas it
was impossible to know how far the stern of the Rena had
"It's moved a reasonable amount because the stern section has
now sunk. It is now submerged, to what degree is not known.''
He said the sinking represented a "significant change'' for
the now-infamous wreck. It is not unexpected given the severe
weather we've had in the past couple of days,'' he said.
MNZ on-scene commander Rob Service said staff would monitor
the shoreline for debris and oil over the coming days but
warned residents and visitors to the Western Bay to be
cautious on beaches over the Easter break.
Shipping lanes were also being monitored for debris and MNZ
was warning boat skippers and vessel masters to take extreme
care as debris spilt into the sea.
A two nautical mile exclusion zone remained in place around
MNZ's oil spill response team and specialist container
recovery teams and vessels from Braemar Howells remained on
alert to respond to reports of further oil or debris coming
Strong winds and rough seas continued to impact on on-water
debris recovery operations which Mr Service said would resume
as soon as conditions were safe.
The National Oiled Wildlife Response Team, based at Massey
University, had been alerted to the sinking and would respond
as needed. The Department of Conservation had also been
While weather conditions at Astrolabe Reef were forecast to
gradually ease, winds would remain strong and the sea was
expected to remain rough for several days.
MNZ and the salvors, Svitzer, would continue to monitor and
assess the condition of the wreck, an would conduct a closer
inspection when conditions allow.