Courtesy of Tradewinds' (11/11/2011):-
With an end to the oil pollution threat from the wrecked Costamare containership Rena in sight the question of what to do with what remains of the ship is becoming an issue in New Zealand.
The authorities have issued a wreck removal notice requiring the shipowner to dispose of the 3,032-teu Rena (built 1990) which will potentially produce a very costly claim for the Swedish Club which has both the hull and the protection and indemnity cover on the vessel.
The bunker removal operation underway at the Astrolabe Reef.But a full scale wreck removal may not be required. The idea of moving the wreck off the Bay of Plenty’s Astrolabe Reef and sinking all or part of the ship in deeper water is being mooted in New Zealand.
A divers' association believes the sunken wreck could become an underwater attraction with other voices suggesting an artificial reef would boost the maritime environment and sea life.
If the Rena became a reef it would be good news for the Swedish Club and for the claims record of Costamare.
But the owner and the club are also facing a threat from a campaign so far backed by 5,000 New Zealanders to make Costamare and its insurer pick up the entire bill for the Rena casualty, clean-up and salvage – a bill that might run to as much as $100m.
New Zealanders are also learning about maritime limitation and the 1976 Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims (LLMC) which appears relevant to the Rena loss.
For the Rena, a ship of 38,000 gross tons, the LLMC limitation amount is about SDR 6m ($9.5m) or NZD 12m with lawyers suggesting that it would be hard under New Zealand law to break limitation.
It looks as if the limitation issue may become a political hot potato with Costamare and the Swedish Club under pressure to go a good way beyond payment of the minimum amount.
There is also discussion of the possibility of a criminal prosecution over the grounding of Rena.
So there is both good and bad news for Costamare and the Swedish Club, but maybe also an environment where there could be room for deals over the LLMC limit, wreck removal and a prosecution.
Meanwhile Maritime New Zealand says good progress is being made in removing the bunkers of the Rena although there are hundreds of tonnes of oil to remove. The flow rate of the pump over to a tank barge is only three or four tones an hour with weather and sea conditions having the potential to delay operations.
Source: Jim Mulrenan, Tradewinds Singapore
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