The captain and navigating officer of the Rena container ship that ran aground Oct. 5 on a New Zealand reef pleaded guilty to a series of charges Wednesday.
The two deck officers were responsible for the sailing path that led the vessel to run aground on the Astrolabe reef near the Port of Tauranga. Following the crash, an estimated 400 metric tons of fuel oil spilled from the ship and killing thousands of seabirds in what is described as New Zealand’s worst environmental disaster.
The Rena, which had a capacity of 3,361 20-foot equivalent container units, was owned and operated by Costamare Shipping on a charter with Mediterranean Shipping when it ran aground.
Both officers pleaded guilty in a Tauranga court to operating the Liberian-registered ship in a dangerous manner and obstructing justice by changing the ship’s documents after the crash. That offense carries a maximum prison sentence of seven years.