Rena Captain Jailed

NZ Herald

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.


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  • ConwayCaptain

    Incompetence of the highest order.

    At sea before GPS etc the ships posn was put on the chart every 30 mins if in clear waters on the coast and every 20 mins or less when in confined waters.

    On NZ and British ships the OOW had the con until the Master EXPRESSLY said he wasntaking over.  Now on Aisan ships with their deference to age etc they assume tha master has the con as soon as he is there and they defer to everything he says and dont question any of his decisions.  On British/NZ ships if you thought the master was doing something wrong or you didnt agree you questioned that decision.  I ahve done it.

    What you have is a one ship company, this is doen to try and limit exposure to claism against other ships in the fleet, manned by a captive manning agency and they take the cheapest crews.

    Look on Costamares web site, all full of the “we care for the environment” we are ISO 2001 etc etc.

    We need a proper enquiry to also look into the state of a 20 years old ship that was on a day rate us US$15k.  I bet they didnt look at the defects.  As Mate and Master on NZ ships if there was a defect it was fixed.

  • Greg M

    Very true Captain.
    The master altering records after the fact is just as bad as not plotting his position, as he should have been doing. According to the interim enquiry the watchkeeper ( I use the term loosely ) plotted the position at 0200 but did not mark it on the chart because the Master and Mate were leaning over the chart. That would have been the perfect time to inform the master of the ship’s position in my opinion
    The day rate of $15k USD seems very cheap, and I too would like to see the maintenance logs .

  • MrV

    What does putting him in jail actually achieve?

    • Pukakidon

       Sets a precedence and an example for other shipping crew and companies using unprofessional crew.

  • Glenn

    So after having his company putting him up in a Tauranga hotel for about seven months, he now spends another 3.5 months in fairly similar circumstanses (I’ve experienced Tauranga accomodation) in I guess either Spring Hill or Hawke’s Bay prison, then gets a free ride home on the NZ taxpayer. (deported.)  Nice result.  Yeah right.

    • Pukakidon

       What is your suggestion, fly them back home after sitting in the naughty chair for 10mins. It is no use fining them they have nothing to pay with.

      Not to forget that the case against the shipping company is yet to held.   I am pretty sure they are going to get a reasonable fine out of this.