Oct. 5, 2011 April 4, 2012 - On Oct. 5 last year, the cargo ship Rena struck the Astrolabe reef off the coast of Tarangua, New Zealand. Before striking the reef, the ship was carrying 547 containers above deck and it is believed that between 150 and 300 containers fell overboard when the ship grounded. The next three photos are the most recent to have been taken by New Zealand Maritime, which has been monitoring the ship as it breaks up on the reef. They were taken on April 4.
Breaking Up The Rena breaks up on the reef where it's been sitting since last October. Note the stern of the ship at the back of the picture.
Surreal Stern This surreal photo is of Rena's stern in the process of sinking.
On a Clear Day The Rena rests almost peacefully on the reef in clear, calm weather.
October 10 When the ship ran aground about "350 tonnes of oil spilled into the sea, killing at least 1,300 birds," according to the Associated Foreign Press. As the oil spilled into the ocean, an army of volunteers combed the coastline attempting to save the wildlife. This incident may be the worst natural disaster in New Zealand maritime history. Above, the ship Awanuia operated near the stricken cargo vessel to remove oil.
October 13 Air Force Iroquois helicopter winches a salvage expert on to Rena. With the ship stranded and the seas tossing the aft section the salvage operations are "very, very dangerous and very difficult" said Matthew Watson, a spokesman for the sailors to Radio New Zealand.
October 17 The seas motion has caused the hull to buckle on the port side approximately a third of the way from the bow. Because of the damage, the salvage crews will have to move quickly to avoid losing cargo and causing further damage to the surrounding environment.
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October 20 Aside from the moving seas, much of the above deck cargo hangs precariously creating complex safety issues that must be addressed before salvage operations can begin. According to the Tarangua Incident page set up to handle inquiries, there were 821 containers stored below deck at time of grounding with 121 containing perishable foodstuffs and 32 containing dangerous goods.
December 22 Once salvage operations began, they proceeded as quickly as possible. The complex operations are exacerbated by the difficulty for the crews on the Rena; the ship is at suck an angle that even walking can be dangerous and challenging.
October 12 Though the operations have rescued many of the containers, the seas are constantly battering the sides of the ship. The motion of the waves cause containers to fall overboard. Most of the containers immediately sink, however some -- around 50 -- of the containers will float.
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January 9 As the floating containers wash up on the beaches of nearby Tarangua the authorities are forced to close the areas for decontamination. Even with the closings, looters are pilfering the goods spilled from fractured containers.
October 12 The containers that have spilled their contents into the sea likely contain powdered milk and other perishables.
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January 8 The Rena relents, after months of battering from the waves finally cracking along the buckled hull and splitting in two. As the ship splits, more containers and cargo are lost to the sea and surrounding beaches.
January 9 On the morning of January 9, the observation flight shows the damage is significant, further compromising salvage operations for the remaining containers. Aside from their precarious stance, the aft section of the ship is now free to slide around at the behest of the ocean endangering any ships in the immediate area.
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January 9 At the height of the response there were more than 600 people from various organizations coordinating cleanup and salvage. Now that the ship has broken apart, there was a "significant release of containers and container debris," Ross Henderson of Maritime New Zealand told BBC News.
October 13 The aftermath will be felt long after the ship sinks. The southern hemisphere is in the midst of the summer holidays and with the beaches closed for decontamination and the containers (and their contents) washing up all over the coastline the summer of 2012 will be a sad memory for many residents. Long-time Waihi resident and community board member Derek Mills told the Herald Sun, "It's devastating to be honest," as he watched plastic bags and piles of polystyrene spill on to the picturesque shoreline early today. "We missed the drama when the boat first grounded. We certainly haven't missed it this time." More information on the stranded ship:
BREAKING: Grounded Cargo Ship Breaks Apart on NZ Reef