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NZ oil ship owner apologises

13 October 2011, 12:48

Tauranga -The owner of the ship responsible for New Zealand's worst sea pollution crisis apologised on Thursday and vowed to co-operate fully with investigations into what went wrong.

In a video statement, the managing director of Costamare Shipping Company, which owns the Liberian-registered Rena, said the Greek company was working with New Zealand authorities to establish how the ship ran aground.

"We are currently investigating how this disastrous event could occur," said Diamantis Manos, speaking from Greece.

He added that it would not be appropriate to speculate on why the ship became stuck on a reef on October 5, leaking up to 300 tonnes of heavy fuel.

Manos said the captain, who has been charged with operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk, was "an experienced master and has an exemplary record".


The ship was fully certified and had recently been inspected by New Zealand Port State Control, Manos said.

"They found no problems. Obviously something went very wrong and we will co-operate with the Transport Accident Investigation Commission of New Zealand to find the answer," he said.

"However, to the people of Tauranga, we want to say we are deeply sorry for the situation that has arisen and the threat you are now facing from fuel oil from the vessel washing up on the beaches of your beautiful part of the world," Manos added.

"It is our ship that went aground and we apologise without hesitation for what has happened."

Salvage crews reboarded the stricken ship on Thursday after huge cracks opened up in the ship's hull a day earlier following a storm that battered it against the reef.

The crews, fearing that a breakup of the Rena was now inevitable, hoped to drain its fuel tanks to prevent further oil from spewing into the environmentally sensitive Bay of Plenty before the ship shears in two.



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