26 May 2012

Rena captain, navigation officer 'proven incompetent'

9:16 am on 26 May 2012

The mayor of Tauranga says the men imprisoned for their role in the Rena cargo ship disaster should not be allowed to be in charge of a ship again.

The ship's captain Mauro Balomaga, 44, and navigation officer Leonil Relon, 37, were on Friday sentenced to seven months in prison for operating a vessel in a way that caused unnecessary danger or risk and wilfully attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The court heard the two men failed to follow reasonable standards of safe navigation after the ship ran aground on Astrolabe Reef, off the Bay of Plenty coast, on 5 October last year.

The men, both from the Philippines, will serve their sentence in New Zealand and be released after 15 weeks.

Mayor Stuart Crosby said the pair have been proven to be incompetent sailors and he would like to be sure they are not in control of a vessel in future.

Longer term, he hopes investigations will pinpoint any systemic failures that may need to be looked at.

Review under way

Maritime New Zealand and the Transport Accident Investigation Commission are carrying out a review on foreign vessels operating in the country's waters following the Rena disaster.

MNZ director Keith Manch says the review is being carried out in an effort to prevent a similar event happening again.

"All the foreign vessels that travel around the New Zealand coast do follow the international conventions and rules. Clearly it raises the question about whether everything is satisfactory and that's something that we'll cover in our review."

Mr Manch says the Transport Accident Investigation Commission is also involved and the review should be completed in a few months.