40 Rena containers seen in water, but Tauranga shipping not yet affected

Report from BusinessDesk by Nick Gray
Port of Tauranga operations haven’t been disrupted yet by the potential shipping hazard of up to 300 containers washed overboard when the Rena split in two, says chief executive Mark Cairns.

Port channels are being checked to ensure no risk is posed to arriving and departing vessels. So far 21 containers have been tagged and buoyed out of a total 40 spotted in the water, with the priority being to avoid them beaching, according to Maritime New Zealand’s latest media release.

“A lot of our own resources, such as sonar, are being used to make sure port channels are clear” Cairns told BusinessDesk.

A number of the containers will be submerged, posing a risk to pleasure boaters who may not be aware of the hidden threat, he said.

Michele Poole, a spokeswoman for Maritime New Zealand, says the containers are believed to contain milk powder, timber, plastics and furniture.

Containers have washed ashore at Waihi beach, which has since been closed by police to prevent looting, Fairfax reported.

Earlier report from BusinessDesk
Ships arriving and departing from Port of Tauranga have been warned to be extra vigilant as an estimated 200-to-300 containers remain unaccounted for at sea following the break-up of the Rena.

The port channels are currently being monitored, using side-scanning sonar and magnetometer sweeping, looking for the containers lost when the Rena split, according to a statement on the company’s website.

Michele Poole, a spokeswoman at Maritime New Zealand, says the containers are believed to contain milk powder, timber, plastics and furniture.

Ships wishing to lay anchorage off the port have been asked to drift north of Mayor Island.

Port of Tauranga chief executive Mark Cairns is being briefed on the situation at the Incident Coordination Centre.

Shares of Port of Tauranga fell 0.8 percent to $10.12 on Friday, having reached a record high $10.20 the previous day on news that Fonterra Cooperative Group has joined container line Maersk in moving its business from Ports of Auckland, where operations are being disrupted by strikes.

The Rena had 1,368 containers aboard when it became initially grounded, with 89 previously lost overboard and 282 removed since the recovery began on November 18.