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Monday, 17 October 2011

Disaster for exporters - Container ship Rena

Source: http://www.maritimenz.govt.nz/images/Incident-area/Salvage6-small.jpg.  Maritime New Zealand. (All images in the incident gallery are available for re-use.)

This photo shows the containers on the grounded ship Rena at a dangerous list.  A number of containers have already fallen overboard and have been washed up on beaches in the Bay of Plenty.

I had occasion last week to go to the local branch of Macaulay Metals - a New Zealand exporter of scrap metal based in Lower Hutt.   I asked the assistant who helped me how things were going.  It was quite an innocent question asked because I was interested in this exporting company.   He said:  'Well not too good - we've got three containers of metal on the stranded ship going overseas'.!

No doubt Macaulay Metals is not alone in having a precious cargo of exports already ruined either because it has fallen off the ship, or because the consignment is perishable and the containers are no longer linked to any power source.   The focus for Maritime New Zealand at the moment is to get the oil from the ship before it causes further environmental damage and once that is completed then to remove the containers that remain.

This sad incident highlights the dependence of New Zealand's international trade on maritime transportation.  When all is going well we tend to forget about the supply chain, and only in the case of a disaster such as this do we remember these vital links.

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