The Captain of the MV Rena has been jailed for 7 months for running his vessel aground on Astrolabe Reef off Tauranga:
Crown prosecutor Rob Ronayne told the court today the crew made a catalogue of errors while racing to the Port of Tauranga under time pressure.
He said the ship cut corners and sailed hazardously close to other landmarks and the captain and navigational officer tried to cover up their faults.
There were “substantial deviations” from the approved passage plan without just cause.
Most seriously, Balomaga instructed Relon to later plot a false chart position at 2am on October 5 – 15 minutes before the Rena ran aground – so that it gave the appearance of the Rena passing clear of the Astrolabe Reef, Mr Ronayne told the court.
When interviewed on October 11, neither man mentioned falsifying the charts.
Balomaga also admitted a charge under the Resource Management Act of being the master of a ship from which harmful substances or contaminants were discharged into the coastal marine area, and also pleaded guilty to four charges under the Crimes Act of wilfully attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Relon also pleaded guilty to three similar charges, which relate to altering ship documents after the grounding, and a charge under the Resource Management Act relating to the discharge of harmful substances and/or contaminants.
The sentences related to the Crimes Act and Maritime Transport Act charges. There was no imprisonment over the RMA charges.