Monday, 2 January 2012

Rena - Port of Refuge

Looking in the not too distant future, it may be necessary for Svitzer to find a location to redeliver the remains of the Rena back to her Owners (Costamare). Redelivery of the hulk is another process step in the insurance claim which requires the salved property to be handed back to her Owners (Costamare) and Insurers (The Swedish Club). On the basis of Rena being declared a 'constructive total loss', the Swedish Club will own the remains of the ship.

Docmortand commented:- "Highly risk averse maritime neighbours?" I guess I don't know the area - can you elaborate a little on that? It's not important, just curiosity.

Assuming that the aft end of the Rena can be refloated, the maritime term of 'port of refuge' becomes relevant. Coastal states are obligated to provide 'ports of refuge' to ships in distress, akin to the principles of the Good Samaritan providing shelter. However, coastal states are often wary of ships becoming abandoned in their ports or sinking and blocking navigation channels.

Hypothetically, a voyage to a scrapyard in say India would require the tug and tow to pass through the coastal waters of Australia. With the most sheltered route passing through the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait, Australia may not permit the convoy to pass through these sensitive waters. When the tanker 'Prestige' suffered structural failure off the coast of Spain in 2003, the Spanish Government refused to let the damaged ship approach the coastline and even sent out a warship to make the point.

So even if Coastal States are required to offer 'ports of refuge' to ships in distress, they can impose conditions so onerous that it is often commercially expedient to scuttle the ship in deep water. A recent example was the stranding, salvage and eventual scuttling of the tanker 'Phoenix' off Cape Town , under tow to India for scrapping. The Owners of the low value ship disappeared, leaving the South African Government to foot the entire bill.

Some new photos of Rena today from various sources at Astrolabe Reef.

Rena's hull showing the mis-alignment between bow and stern.

One of the salvors inspecting the port side. Visible is the inner side structure between the shell plating and longitudinal cargo hold bulkhead.

Smit Borneo moves back into position to start discharging containers on the bow section.

The Antipodean Mariner


  1. Thanks for the explanation AM.
    Nice photos.

  2. Indeed, many thanks! Had no idea about the strictures of Port of Refuge indeed...thanks for the explanation - very clear and direct!

    Makes me wonder if Costamare is multi-national? Is there options for where to deliver the wreck, if possible? Or would Australia pretty much put a kibosh on coming anywhere near the continent, requiring deep-Pacific travel? that even possible, let alone wise?

  3. Is the Rena another deadly formula coming to life? 50% detention rates in the last 36 months, build for carriage of dangerous goods but with no planned maintenance plan.