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Obscure Daina Shipping charged in New Zealand containership disaster

THE obscure defendants, technically owners of a stricken containership Rena, which was wrecked on a reef off a popular New Zealand holiday spot in October, have been charged with causing the country's worst environmental disaster in decades.

Daina Shipping, not be confused with Diana Shipping, and reportedly a unit of Greece's Costamare Inc, has been charged that it discharged harmful substances after its 3,360-TEU Liberian-flagged vessel struck a reef about 12 miles off Tauranga, north island New Zealand.

Daina Shipping Co, not associated with the disaster until now, is the registered owner of the vessel and has overall responsibility for the operation of the ship, reported the Associated Press of New Zealand. The Rena was chartered to Geneva's Mediterranean Shipping Company, the world's second largest container carrier after Maersk.

A Google search did not produce a reference for Daina Shipping. Nor did a scan of the Costamare website, which lists under "Corporate Details": Costamare Inc, Costamare Shipping Company, Ciel Shipmanagement, all Athens-based as well as Shanghai Costamare Ship Management of Shanghai, and C-Man Maritime of Manila.

The New Zealand charges carry a maximum fine of NZ$600,000 (US$488,000). The owners face an additional daily fine of NZ$10,000.

The ship's captain and second officer have already pleaded guilty to operating the ship in a dangerous manner, releasing toxic substances and to altering the ship's documents. They will be sentenced on May 25.

Marine officials said high winds and seas have battered the wreck, causing more containers to fall into the sea and spreading oil still leaking from the ship.

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