16 Comments Posted

  1. And having unlit floating almost submerged containers in the path of vessels is not a safety of life at sea issue?

  2. Trevor,

    If crew safety is but a minor detail, good for you but that is not what the UN charter SOLAS (Safety Of Live AT Sea) says. It is accually the major point.

    Major point is (and I repeat)

    You still need to adress the point of what responsibility the captain has AFTER a grounding. The crew, the ship, the cargo, the enviroment.

    Add to that what the salvors responsibility is in regards safety in the workplace for those working on the wreck.

    Still it is easy from the armchair, you dont have the responsibility for the safety of the crew nor know the state of the wreck and the cargo.

  3. Gerrit – once again you concentrate on a few details and miss the major point. After a month they were still not in a position to place trackers on containers because they hadn’t obtained them yet.

    They didn’t give themselves that option.


  4. Trevor,

    You still need to adress the point of what responsibility the captain has AFTER a grounding. The crew, the ship, the cargo, the enviroment.

    Again armchair admiral stuff.

    The ship was “only” listing 2 to 3 degrees. Stuck “firmly” aground, cargo “not” shifting.

    You were not on board to make judgement calls on crew safety, ship condition, cargo security, etc.

    Very easy to do from a beachside armchair, but onboard a grounded ship?

  5. At one point, the ship was listing only about 3-4 degrees, and the weather was fine. With one end of the ship firmly aground, why would the cargo be shifting? It’s bolted down.

    If they had obtained more trackers earlier, they could have supplied some to the local fishing boats, so trackers could have been fitted to any floating containers found by chance.

    Still it would be good to have all containers fitted with trackers.


  6. BJ and Trevor,

    Again such expert armchair salvors. You still need to address the issue of who is to attached the tags, how vulnerable are the tags are to damage, how safe is the process to attach the tags?

    Easy to sit in that armchair from the safety of the beach and think up ways to “fix” it without putting oneself into a dangerous position. Ship aground, listing 11 degrees, shifting cargo, unknown if she may break up, etc.

    Had an interesting discussion with a master mariner about the captains responsibility after a grounding. Is his primary focus (AFTER an event) crew safety (ie remove them from danger ASAP) or the ship itself or the cargo or potential environmental damage?

    Perhaps Kerry Thomas can give his interpretation.

    SOLAS is vague on this and I can not find a definitive answer.

    However the captain cannot order his crew to carry out dangerous work that they are not trained for.

    Things to consider are at what point does the captain make a decision to use the crew to prevent further damage to the ship, the cargo, the environment versus their immediate safety.

    Bit like if your workplace catches fire. We all have rudimentary fire training and can use an extinquisher on a small fire. However at what point does responsibility to building change to personal safety and evacuation. Leaving fire extinquishing to the experts.

    I believe that there are already international plans in process to have ALL containers fitted with tracking devices.

  7. Gerrit

    Whatever the “state” of the wreck, once you figure out that it is more likely to break up than be refloated you know that every one of those containers is going in the water… and most likely will go in during foul weather. You aren’t going to put a tracking device on a container that is falling into the ocean with others in the midst of a gale with 4 meter swells.

    The only question is whether they stay together and sink with the ship or wander away… and the requirement is obvious.

    It is not IMHO, the salvor’s responsibility to think of it. They have other priorities. It goes to Maritime NZ or whoever is actually “managing” the process. A week grace I give ’em, but after a month it is obvious that nobody ordered any. None are available after a month? The Chinese could MANUFACTURE the damned things AND ship ’em in a month.

    We are not talking about customized purpose built tracking, just something that’ll work well enough, cheap enough, long enough to give us a chance to find the boxes.

    …and as for attaching, a magnet and a bit of string would probably serve. You drop the damned things or toss them, onto the top layer of the containers (which will be the first to hit the water). Don’t bother with the rest… when they are exposed, if we can get to them we tag them… don’t worry that some of them will be damaged… the limitations of the situation guarantee that 100% ain’t happenin nohow. Do what is possible and accept it won’t be ideal. Same currents will take similar containers similar places… one might find others.

    The point is… after a month I assumed that they had something. It is pretty obvious however, that they were NOT ordered, requested, whatever. Which speaks poorly of the incident management organization.

    I would bet that they didn’t actually assign enough people to manage… and that the people who were assigned are so overwhelmed that an actual risk assessment and mitigation plan was never generated.

    PS. Kiwis have a wonderful “Number 8 wire” culture underlying a perfectionist streak where if it can’t be done perfectly it can’t be done at all.

  8. So if 10000 containers fall off each year, you would think that we would be better prepared to deal with them. However the days after the ship went aground had fair weather, and the crew were still on board. Some form of locator could have been fitted to at least some of the containers in that time. After all, they managed to fit a locator to a well-known emperor penguin, so there are some locators that aren’t very big. If New Zealand didn’t have enough stock, they could easily have been air-freighted.

    You’re the one suggesting fitting trackers to the containers after they have fallen off. This strategy doesn’t appear to be working too well. A description in the recent news mentioned needles and haystacks…


  9. Trevor,

    Were the transponders available “off the shelf”?. Armchair critics have the answers but how operationally aware are they?

    4 Weeks ago the wreck was in an unknown safety state. You suggesting salvors should both work to remove the oil AND tag containers?

    How many people could be safely landed on the ship and SAFELY removed in a hurry if the wreck broke up?

    All matters to be considered before putting salvors at risk.

    Unfortunately one has been injured already, want some more?

    The missing containers fell off in BAD weather, you volunteering to go out to sea in unfavourable weather and tag containers? Risk management says no.

    Sonar searches for the containers are underway


    You will be interested to know thyat some 10,000 containers fall overboard each year.


    You will be glad to know these quickly turn into reefs teeming with marine life.

  10. Gerritt – they do not even have the trackers here after a month! Yes the containers are currently in precarious positions, but they were not anything like that 4 weeks ago before the first storm struck.

    I am sure there are ways of attaching the trackers that don’t involve any of the suggestions you have made.

    You have made sound suggestions about the containers that have fallen overboard. Why haven’t they done this then? About 60% of the containers that fell off are now lost.


  11. Trevor,

    As an armchair operational savor, you are showing Jackal like tendencies for simplification.

    Who would you send into the dangerous mission of attaching tracking devices onto containers? Look at the photgraphs and the conditions of the stacks! How safe is it to have a salvor climbing the stacks (especially those on the aft deck)?

    Will OSH regulations permit it? Would you personally climb the stack or are you an armchair admiral and let “others” do the dangerous work while you sit back and offer grand but operational suicidal advice.

    Hey maybe you could dangle a salvor from the end of a winch rope of a helicopter. That would be right up there with a Jackal armchair innitiative. You volunteer for that mission? A swaying deck and unstable containers while swinging in the breeze from a hopefully stable helicopter platform.

    Then you look a tthe risk of the tracking devices being damaged as the containers take their plunge from the stack into the sea. Damage risk is high, so the process to attaching them to the containers, while on the ship, is both high in human and potential damage terms.

    The proper operational response is to let the containers fall into the water and THEN attach a tracking device.

    Containers can be tracked using Navy sonar arrays, marker bouys, etc. No need for electronic tags for every container.

  12. It has now been about a month since the Rena grounded, and they have attached underwater locator beacons to some 35 of the most vulnerable or dangerous containers. Another 200 locator beacons are on their way:

    WTF? There are over 1300 containers on that ship. They have had periods of fine weather during which they could have attached beacons to at least some of the containers. And a month later the beacons are still on the way? Due to their ealier inaction, there are now about 50 containers scattered about whose whereabouts is unknown, some sunk, some floating hazards to shipping, all without locator beacons.


  13. Looks like we are incredibly lucky this disaster was not 100 times worse – the ship ran aground in reasonably sheltered and shallow conditions – has not broken up yet, remarkable in itself……an average knowledge of seafaring will tell anyone that this could have been so much, much worse……I’d take it as a warning

  14. http://kjt-kt.blogspot.com/2011/10/kia-ora-contradictory-statements-and.html

    “Successive Governments have been told many times the race for the cheapest shipping costs makes more of this sort of accident inevitable. They all failed in their duty to prepare for it.

    Appointing chair polishing ignoramus as bosses in MNZ, allowing substandard FOC ships, many of which which would not be allowed on the EC coasts, to starving emergency response planning and equipping of funding, is at the door of all our Neo-Liberal Governments since 1984.

    The ineptitude and lack of preparedness does not make me confident of their ability to monitor deep sea drilling.”


    “Shipping accidents like the Rena are entirely at the door of Neo-Liberal economics.

    The foreseeable results of Globalisation, de-regulation, the endless search for the cheapest, the socialisation of risks and the privatisation of benefits..

    Tired, overstressed, low paid crews, cheaply built and maintained ships, inadequate or ignored regulation and excessive workloads are the norm at sea.”

    The Rena is one of the inevitable consequences of policy settings to increase monetary income for the few, who can buy the Government, as the only aim..

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