19 Dec 2014

Call for all ships to have hi-tech navigation

6:33 pm on 19 December 2014

Iwi and Tauranga businesses say a report into the grounding of the Rena should be making tough recommendations to force ships plying the New Zealand coastline to install hi-tech navigational systems.

The Rena ran aground in October 2011.

The Rena ran aground in October 2011. Photo: RENA PROJECT

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) released its final report on the 2011 grounding yesterday, but locals say the report's scope was too narrow.

The commission found that the master and crew of the container ship were not following navigational and watch-keeping procedures and recommends that the company managing the Rena improve its ship safety system.

Maritime New Zealand has been asked look into using visual aids, such as a beacon on the reef, and investigate whether ship routing should be introduced.

TAIC also recommends that training for ship staff needs improving at a global level.

Buddy Mikaere, a representative of iwi on Motiti Island, near the Astrolabe Reef where the Rena grounded, says TAIC should be recommending virtual navigational aids for all ships coming into New Zealand waters.

"If we can track every aircraft flying around New Zealand and have it come up on a screen somewhere, why can't we do the same sort of thing with ships around the coastline?"

Mr Mikaere says it makes no sense that such technology is not already required on all ships.

The chairperson of the Rena Business Action Group, Nevan Lancaster, says the Rena ran aground because of human error, and ships should be forced to use technology to avoid dangerous waters.

"Make them hit a standard. If they don't hit that standard, hold the ship. It's not a big issue. It'll hurt the shipping company, it'll hurt the charter a bit, but that's the one thing we can do."

Mr Lancaster says he does not believe the Government is brave enough to require ships working around New Zealand to install systems, which shipping companies say are too expensive.

The Rena's owner, Daina Shipping, says the vessel's manager, Ciel, has already dealt with the substance of the recommendations relating to it.

Daina says it is grateful for the way it has been able to engage with TAIC during the three-year inquiry. The company says it has been a productive exercise and it has provided input to the commission on areas where they disagreed.

Rena owner to pay for virtual buoys

Daina Shipping is to pay $35,000 for a series of virtual buoys to keep ships off dangerous reefs in the harbour.

The Bay of Plenty regional council says it has been setting up the system for the past 18 months.

Harbourmaster Peter Buell says most large vessels have the equipment to download the virtual markers on electronic charts.

Mr Buell says about 70 percent of the ships which pass through Tauranga have the technology to use the charts and older ships are carefully monitored as they pass though to ensure they don't run aground.

The system is expected to be completed by first quarter of next year.

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