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Book gives personal view of Rena disaster

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 4/10/2016

A witness to New Zealand's worst maritime environmental disaster has produced an up-close account of events in the months after the grounding of the cargo ship Rena five years ago.

On October 5, 2011, the 37,000-tonne Rena came to grief on Astrolabe Reef, 12 nautical miles from the entrance to Tauranga Harbour.

Among those involved in the salvage operation was Captain Kevin Judkins, who has written an account entitled 120 Days at Astrolabe.

The book is based on personal logs and photos from five voyages he made to the reef.

It offers a first-hand account of what took place on and around the reef as the Rena broke up "and the salvage turned into a wreck removal".

"I hope it will be widely read, not least in New Zealand, where we are still ill-equipped to deal with a maritime emergency on this scale," he said.

The book launch in Mount Maunganui was to have coincided with the fifth anniversary on Wednesday of the Rena's grounding.

However, the date has been put back two weeks because bad weather in Australia has delayed the completion of a salvage Mr Judkins is involved in.

An investigation into the grounding of the Liberian-flagged Rena put the blame on crew error.

The captain and first mate were jailed for seven months and the government reached a $38 million compensation deal with the ship's Greek owners.

The ship was salvaged to below the waterline and permission was granted for the remains of wreck to stay on the reef.

The clean-up, which involved removing more than 22,000 tonnes of debris from the seabed, was officially completed in April.

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