It could have been hereā€¦..

The stricken container vessel MV Rena now listing dangerously in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty was last in Melbourne only a few weeks back on 19th and 20th September.

And, so far, there’s no explanation for why the ship just ploughed into a very well documented reef in calm waters at high speed, and with bad weather approaching there are fears that Rena could break up in stormy weather, disgorging its oil and cargo into the Bay of Plenty.

According to media reports about 20 tonnes of fuel have already leaked from the Liberian-flagged ship since it struck the Astrolabe Reef last Wednesday. Blobs of oil have begun to hit the shoreline and oil-coated seabirds, including little penguins, have already been recovered from the slick. And, aside from the oil spill, amongst the hundreds of containers stacked aboard the ship, nine are believed to contain potentially dangerous materials.

It’s a stark reminder of the ever present risks posed by a shipping industry with minimal, perhaps non existent regulation and a labyrinthine trail of registration and ownership often ending in strife ridden and war torn countries such as Liberia, Panama, Cayman Islands, i.e. Flags of Convenience.  Ships are registered under flags of convenience to reduce operating costs or avoid regulations in the owner's country. Thus, the ship operates under the laws of its flag state, and these laws are used if the ship is involved in a law suit. So, NZ will have its work cut out chasing down who is finally responsible for this disaster.


MV Rena, an unwanted guest in NZ’s Bay of Plenty
Image: Getty Images

For more hair raising facts on flags of convenience shipping see Wikipedia:

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