- Watts Shipping Register
- Watts Shipping Register
Nautical News from Vol 59 No 1 July 2013
Compiled by Michael Pryce with the assistance of M. Berthold, A. Calvert, I. J. Farquhar, N. Kirby, R. J. McDougall, R. Walker, and from the newsletters of the Hawke's Bay and Bay of Plenty Branches of the Society
Fishing vessel “Aukaha”
Sealord's fishing vessel Aukaha (1,226 gross tonnage, built 1997) passed though Cook Strait on 13th November 2012, bound for Nelson. She was purchased by Sealord’s in December 2011, and received her present name in October 2012, previously being well-known under her original name of Independent 1, and owned by Independent Fisheries Ltd, New Zealand.
Survey Ship “Ramform Sterling”
An unusual brief-caller at Wellington on 12th November 2012 was the seismic survey vessel Ramform Sterling (13,721 gross tonnage, built 2009), which arrived from Singapore and Fremantle, and after bunkering, sailed for Punta Arenas and Port Stanley. Operated by PGS Exploration (Norway) AS, and registered at Nassau, Bahamas , her hull was built by STX RO Offshore Tulcea SA, Tulcea , as sub-contractor to STX Norway Offshore AS Langsten, Tomrefjord. She is 102.2 metres length overall, 40 metres beam extreme, and 26.8 metres beam moulded. She has an unusual hull shape, with wide stern to maximize the number of towed-arrays that can be deployed (twentytwo), and a wedge-shaped hull towards her bow. She is the second of class, following Ramform Sovereign (13,688 gross tonnage, built 2008). A much larger vessel, Ramform Titan (27,000 gross tonnage, built 2013), is under construction by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., Nagasaki. Ramform Sterling’s advertised capabilities are higher transit speed, long endurance, featuring innovations such as a roll-compensated helideck, dual workboat capacity, and unique equipment-handling systems.
“Anatoki” Discharged Bagged Cement in Wellington
The New Zealand coaster Anatoki (561 gross tonnage, built 1992), registered at Nelson, arrived at Wellington on 27th November 2012 to discharge the first bagged cement to arrive at Wellington for many decades. Cement usually arrives in Wellington on one of the specialised cement-carriers, (Golden Bay, Milburn Carrier II or Westport) which discharge bulk cement into the cement silos at the northern end of Aotea Quay. However, the cement-carrier Golden Bay had been delayed during a drydocking at Devonport, awaiting spares from overseas for its controllable-pitch propeller system, and had been out of service for several weeks. To ensure continuity of supply of Golden Bay cement from Portland, Whangarei, the Holcim cement-carrier Westport was chartered to make two coastal voyages from Portland. In addition, the coaster Anatoki brought a cargo of bagged cement to be discharged ashore, and to be trucked north later. Anatoki arrived at Wellington on 26th January 2013 with another cargo of bagged cement from Portland.
Anatoki is operated by Coastal Bulk Shipping Ltd., and since April 2008 has made more than 500 voyages around the New Zealand coast, carrying dolomite, fertiliser, coal, gravel – and now cement.
Storage Plans for “Inconstant” (Plimmer's Ark) Relic
In late November 2012 it was announced that a notable piece of Wellington’ maritime history was at risk of being hidden away in a warehouse. Wellington City Council advised that they needed to move the remains of the sailing ship Inconstant, or Plimmer’s Ark as it became known, from her site between Shed 6 and the TSB Arena to dry storage in a warehouse at the end of January 2013. This was because the council are relocating to that area while the council building and the town hall are undergoing earthquake strengthening, and the TSB Arena is to be fitted out for use as a conference centre. Inconstant has been undergoing preservation work for several years. The council has spent more than NZ$2 million on restoration work on her since her remains were excavated from its old berth, beneath the Old Bank Building, in 1997. Inconstant was built in Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1847. She was wrecked at the head of Wellington Harbour in 1849 because it missed its stays and hit the rocks at Pencarrow. She was then towed into Wellington Harbour to be used as a warehouse and bond store by John Plimmer. She later became thee first jetty in Wellington, used as a landing place for immigrants. In 1883 she was dismantled and her remains were buried underneath the National Mutual head office.
In late January 2013 it was stated that the ongoing headache that is the salvage of the wrecked cargo ship Rena had only become worse with the latest task, gathering up about 1,000 tonnes of debris strewn across the sea floor. Newly released underwater video footage makes it clear what the specialists of US-based Resolve Salvage and Fire are up against:- stacked and broken containers, mangled piles of steel and countless pieces of litter spread 10,000 square metres around the Rena wreck site, the Astrolabe Reef off the Tauranga coast. It is a lengthy and expensive operation that has seen salvors dive through water-filled corridors to access submerged oil tanks, pluck containers from high stacks on precarious tilts and whittle away pieces of steel from the ship's bow amid exposed sea conditions. Clearing the debris field is the fourth major phase of the clean-up since Rena struck the reef on 5 October 2011, and is expected to take months. A spokesman for the ship’s owners said the debris field clean-up did not mean the stern would remain at the site. Studies into the different impacts of options for dealing with the wreck were nearly complete, with a further round of community consultation due next month and a final decision later this year. By mid-February 2013, it was clear that Rena’s insurers and owners wanted to leave part of the cargo ship on the Astrolabe Reef, but Tauranga’s Mayor would rather have the whole wreck gone. By then, the cost of dealing with the ship had exceeded NZ$275 million , and was likely to become one of the most expensive maritime salvages in history The proposal involved an application for resource consent to leave part of the wreck in place following work that would secure the site. During 2013, the insurers plan to remove contaminants to meet environmental guidelines, take away as much remaining cargo as possible and clear or close any hazards making the wreck unsafe for diving. Under the proposal, some debris would remain around the site, and discharge consent would have to be sought to account for slow release from the weathering of wreck steel and paint, residue oils and any lingering cargo contaminants. The insurers said the site would be monitored regularly, and pollutants would have a “minimal and temporary” effect. However, they said some contaminants from remaining cargo, hull paints or oils could affect the sea floor, potentially “restricting some ecological regeneration”. If the company gained consent it would establish a “restoration package” to fund a range of research scholarships and grants for projects in the Bay of Plenty. Removing the entire wreck would mean extending the period the exclusion zone would need to remain in place, involve greater disturbance to and destruction of the reef environment and “major operational challenges” including risks to workers, the ship’s owner and insurers said. A previous assessment estimated that option could take up to five years. The New Zealand Underwater Association has pushed for the wreck to become a dive site, but Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby said his first preference was to have the ship completely removed. If that was not possible, he could accept the site being made safe with strict consent conditions and “a strong and robust” monitoring programme. Motiti Islander Aubrey Hoete was comforttable with the proposal, but most iwi on the island wanted it gone, he said. The insurers acknowledged the cultural and spiritual bond the island’s Te Patuwai hapu had with the reef, Otaiti, and were “committed” to working with them and other iwi groups to address concerns.
“Estoril Hauler” Scrapped
On 4th December 2012 the chemical tank barge Estoril Hauler (633 gross tonnage, built 1936 was towed from her usual berth at Gabador Place down the Tamaki river by the Thomson Towboats Mahia and Manukau. At the mouth of the Weiti River she was turned and then towed stern first by the same tugs up river to the old Stevensons yard at Whangaparaoa where she was scrapped during December Estoril Hauler was built as the oil bunkering barge Hinuwai at Wellington in 1936. She was later renamed Nuwa, David C. Ette, and Sea-Tow 14, before purchase by Marstel Terminals and renamed in 1990. Hinuwai is the last maritime connection with Wellington's Evans Bay Patent slipways, having been launched from the small slip on 15th July 1936.
“Spirit of Independence”
The container ship Tini (6,701 gross tonnage, built 2005) arrived in Auckland on 13th December 2012. registered in Antigua & Barbuda. Still as Tini, she made her first arrival at Lyttelton on 18th December 2012. She was renamed Spirit of Independence on 7th January 2013, but was still registered in Antigua & Barbuda, until 14th January 2013, when she became registered at Auckland. Spirit of Independence calls weekly at Auckland, Lyttelton, Nelson and New Plymouth, looping around North Cape for the southbound leg. Spirit of Endurance ((7,545 gross tonnage, built 2008) continues to operate the Auckland, Lyttelton, Nelson and Tauranga service. Spirit of Independence was out of service in Auckland in early January 2013 for engine maintenance reasons. With the new service not including Onehunga, Ports of Auckland reviewed what future Onehunga had as a commercial port, with just bulk cement coasters and LPG tankers using Manukau Harbour.
In August 2012 it was stated that Interislander was evaluating several ships as possible replacements for their ferry Kaitaki. Interislander took out a five-year lease on the 1,650-passenger, 550-car capacity ferry from her European owners Stena in 2005. In June 2010 they opted to take out an option for a three year extension. Interislander, which celebrated its 50th anniversary late in 2012, would need to return Kaitaki to Stena in June 2013 if it chooses not to renew the lease. A team from Interislander spent several weeks in late 2012 visiting various European ports to inspect various ferries available for charter or purchase. After serious assessments after they returned, Interislander decided to further extend their charter of Kaitaki, thereby obviating the need to find and position a replacement ferry. In December 2012, Interislander Line called tenders for interior refurbishment of its three ferries during 2013. Kaitaki would be the first to undergo modernisation of bar, restaurant and public facilities (probably in Brisbane during July and August 2013), followed by Arahura and Aratere later in 2013. Future plans for replacement ferries would not be made until decisions about plans to build or not build a proposed Clifford Bay ferry terminal are announced by Government. Options for the future could include reducing its business to two ships or provide only a seasonal service within two years to cut costs. Rates for carrying freight had dropped by 40 per cent over the last decade and foot passenger traffic declined by 42 per cent. In August 2012 it was stated that KiwiRail had missed its earnings targets by NZ$35 million and warned that that “hard decisions” would have to be made to meet future targets. They also revealed that a previously announced asset write-down was NZ$400 million larger than expected at NZ$7.1 billion. KiwiRail revenue climbed 7 per cent to NZ$715 million in the year to 30 June 2012, due to growth in its freight business, while revenue at its Interislander ferry business was flat, mainly due to problems with the upgrade of the Aratere. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation missed the company’s target by NZ$35 million, which was blamed on lower than expected income from the Interislander and the Tranz Scenic business, which suffered a decline in passengers following the Christchurch earthquake. Higher than expected fuel costs also hit earnings. KiwiRail’s financial performance attracted some criticism. KiwiRail needs to re-think its loss-making inter-island freight operations to have a realistic chance of commercial recovery, said shipping consultant Rod Grout. Mr. Grout said the state-owned operator’s latest annual results showed yet again that efforts to regain inter-island rail freight volumes were hindering progress in other areas. “Because of KiwiRail’s poorly performing assets in this ultra-competitive market, its already troubled NZ$4.6 billion Turnaround Plan risks sinking on Cook Strait,” he said. “Low revenue and depleted earnings reported for Interislander freight operations are in stark contrast to positive results for bulk import/export commodities such as milk products, logs and coal. “There are good reasons for this discrepancy but KiwiRail seems determined to prove it can succeed on Cook Strait, despite another year of missed earnings targets.” Mr. Grout said the core problem was continued under-recovery on investments in a heavily rates-discounted market set by in-transit shipping lines. “That means competing largely on price for full and part container loads between Auckland and Christchurch in attempts to recapture more business. “But simple economics dictate a rail network with expensive infrastructure and purpose-built ferries costs far more to run than ships sailing directly between ports around the coast.” No amount of volume growth in this sector would bring profits, as long as the cost of service delivery outweighed revenue returns, he said. “A salient example of this was NZ$56 million spent last year on one rail ferry for what KiwiRail argued was urgently needed extra freight capacity. “Yet a year later the same people are blaming low inter-island revenue as a major reason for missing their full earnings targets.” Mr. Grout said the answer was glaringly obvious, if KiwiRail’s owners faced up to competitive realities in the freight transport sector. “They should focus on overland, intra-island rail links where profits can be made and stop trying to revive an iron bridge relic from the 1960s. “As each year proves to their cost, rail freight by sea is not a commercial proposition.
“Arahura” - Thirty Years Old.
In December 2013, Arahura (12,735 gross tonnage, built 1983) will have been in service across Cook Strait for thirty years. She was built in Denmark in 1983, and after removal of some of her aft superstructure in 2009, now has a capacity of 550 passengers, 125 cars, 12 trucks and 24 rail wagons. She was launched on 18th March 1983 and was completed in November 1983 by Aalborg Vaerft A/S - Aalborg, Denmark. In 2008 she underwent a major NZ$9 million refit at Sembawang Shipyard, Singapore, which removed a section of her aft superstructure and reduced her passenger capacity from 977. Prior to going to Singapore, she was of 13,621 gross tonnage. When first built she was of 7,583 gross tonnage, but this increased when tonnage measurement regulations changed. Aalborg Shipyard was a shipyard located in the Danish town of Aalborg. Founded in 1912 by brothers Immanuel Stuhr and Peter Philip Stuhr, the shipyard was founded under the name Stuhr Engine and Ship Construction, a development of their father’s business. From 1937 until the yard closed in 1988, it was owned by J. Lauritzen. In 2005 the former yard area was cleared, the only building surviving demolition being the 1912 machine shop, while the dry dock continues yacht production, leased by Danyard Aalborg. Today, the former yard is covered with new home and office developments
“Santa Regina” Engine Breakdown
Santa Regina had problems with her port engine early in the morning of 8th February 2013 whilst inbound to Picton in Tory Channel. She completed her voyage to Picton on her starboard engine only and discharged passengers and freight, then returned to Wellington via the Northern Entrance on her starboard engine only, with no passengers carried. Inspection of her port engine found some camshaft problems, and she was out of service until 18 February.
Empty Lifeboat Recovered from Foveaux Strait
A large empty lifeboat, understood to have been lost from a large bulk carrier, was found floating in Foveaux Strait on 10th December 2012. A Bluff-based commercial fisherman saw it floating and contacted authorities, with the Riverton Coastguard boat dispatched to the scene, about 35 kilometres west of Riverton. Riverton Coastguard said when they reached the enclosed fibreglass lifeboat, which was about 10 metres long and half full of water, they began towing it to shore. However, because it was so heavy the tow rope snapped twice. A trawler came to help, towing it to just outside the Riverton Harbour, with the tow rope snapping a couple more times on the way Inquiries had revealed that the lifeboat had fallen at sea from the Greek bulk carrier Anangel Happiness (89,565 gross tonnage, built 2008).
‘Queen Elizabeth 2” Future Plans
In Vol. 58, No. 4, 2012, we advised that planning had been settled to convert the former Cunard flagship Queen Elizabeth 2 (70,327 gross tonnage, built 1969) into a luxury hotel in Dubai. However, by December 2012, various media articles considered that she had been sold for scrapping. After various other rumours had circulated, by early January 2013 it was announced that. after more than four years sitting idle in a Dubai port, she was to be converted into a luxury hotel to be based in the Far East, likely either Shanghai or Hong Kong.
New CentrePort tug “Tapuhi”
In April 2012 CentrePort Wellington announced that they were to acquire a new tug to operate alongside their existing tug Tiaki. She is a sister Damen-type ASD2411, of 68-tonnes bollard-pull, built as yard number 64 at Changde, some 1,200 kilometres up a tributary of the Yangtze River from Shangahi. (Tiaki, built by Damen in Vietnam in 2008, was yard number 14). Tapuhi was launched on 14th December 2012, and started her delivery voyage from Shanghai on 9th March 2013, sailing via Madang (23rd March 2013). Tapuhi (250 gross tonnage, built 2013) arrived in Wellington on her delivery voyage on 8th April 2013. When Tapuhi arrived , it seemed likely that either Ngahue or Toia (302 gross tonnage, built 1972), would be sold, leaving one as a “spare” tug to operate with Tiaki and Tapuhi.
Reefer “Asian Lily” grounding off Papua New Guinea
For many years New Zealand supermarkets have been supplied with their Dole bananas by a smart fleet of refrigerated cargo ships that arrived about every two weeks from Davao, in the Philippines. Japanese-owned “reefer” ships, as they are commonly known, discharged at Auckland, Wellington and Lyttelton, and then often went to Napier, Gisborne or Tauranga to load New Zealand fruit for Japan. Commonly referred-to as “banana boats”, they usually also carry pineapples and other tropical fruit, and their cargo are more properly referred-to as “horticultural produce” to emphasise the produce other than bananas. The “reefer” ship Asian Lily (7,355 gross tonnage, built 1998), owned by Santoku Shipping and operated by Faith Marine, both of Japan, has been well-known in New Zealand ports on this service for over a year. Whilst on a ballast voyage after sailing from Lyttelton on 18th December 2012 direct to Davao, Philippines, where she was scheduled to arrive on 28th December 2012 to load more fruit, she ran aground early in the morning on 24th December 2012. She grounded at Kwaiawata Island, Papua New Guinea, in position 080 54’ South, 1510 55’East, near Woodlark Island, about 280 kilometres north east of the provincial capital Alotau, where she spectacularly almost put bows into the trees fringing the shoreline after ramming the shallow reef very close to the shore at full speed of 18 knots. Oil leaked from the stranded ship and caused some pollution. No doubt partially caused by the Christmas holiday period, no news about this grounding “broke” until 2nd January 2013, when the Governor of Milne Bay complained loudly that no Government authorities had bothered advising of the incident, and he had only received the news from local villagers on the island. No doubt prompted by this criticism, the National Maritime Safety Authority of Papua New Guinea released a public statement on 2nd January 2013 advising of the grounding, and that the owners had appointed Pacific Towing (PNG) Ltd to refloat the vessel. (This company is a member of the Svitzer Salvage Group of the Netherlands). The tug Wombi (265 gross tonnage, built 1977) was at the scene of the grounding from 27th December, and was soon joined by the tug Vulcan (266 gross tonnage, built 1975) which had loaded salvage equipment in Port Moresby. Asian Lily was refloated at 10.52a.m. on 11th January 2013, and was towed to an anchorage off Woodlark Island for damage assessment. On 13th January 2013 she was towed to Milne Bay and anchored offshore from Gili Gili, where more assessment of her damaged bottom plating was made. Asian Lily sailed from there on 24th January 2013, in tow of the tug Wombi, and arrived at Port Moresby on 28th January. She sailed from Port Moresby on 4th February under her own power for Japan, and she anchored off Matsuyama, Japan, on13th February, awaiting a repair yard.. By 20th February, she was in drydock at Setoda. She was still there in early April 2013, indicating that extensive bottom damage repairs were in hand.
Chatham Islands Phosphate Deposits
On 7th January 2013, the mayor of the Chatham Islands said it was important that the islands benefit from sea-floor mining of phosphate deposits. Listed company Chatham Rock Phosphate has applied to the New Zealand Government for a mining licence. The mayor said the mining application could be worth more than NZ$1 billion, but said that residents are worried that the profits could go to the mainland. Chatham Rise Phosphate said that farmers would be able to access cheaper fertiliser for their land, which would increase productivity. The company would need to have vessels based there to do environmental monitoring, a helicopter base is required for medical reasons and there would be the potential for residents to work on its dredger used to recover the phosphate from the seabed, or on an export ship. The company was also co-funding a feasibility study into building a new port at Ocean Bay. (Ocean Bay is on the northern side of Petre Bay, and about 25 kilometres northwest of the present port at Waitangi.)
Sea Shepherd Anti-whaling Fleet
Three Sea Shepherd ships, Steve Irwin (1,017 gross tonnage, built 1975) , Brigitte Bardot (trimaran, built 1998)and Bob Barker (488 gross tonnage, built 1950), left New Zealand in early January 2013 bound for the Southern Ocean ready to do battle in their summer campaign against Japanese whaling in Antarctic waters. A fourth vessel, Sam Simon (484 gross tonnage, built 1993), sailed from Hobart. During the protest activities, Sea Shepherd vessels positioned themselves so as to prevent the factory ship Nisshin Maru (8,141 gross tonnage, built 1987) from refueling from their supply tanker Sun Laurel (4,067 gross tonnage, built 2008) and some minor collisions took place. Sea Shepherd ships arrived in Australia from Antarctic waters in mid-March 2013.
New “Rainbow Warrior” Visits New Zealand
In January 2013, the third incarnation of Greenpeace’s campaign ship, Rainbow Warrior (855 gross tonnage, built 2011), made her first arrival in New Zealand from Colombo, landing in the Northland bay where the scuttled hulk of her original namesake now rests. She entered Matauri Bay at dawn and received a Maori blessing. She then embarked on a six-week tour with calls at Auckland, Bluff, Dunedin and Wellington, where she was open to the public for viewing. Greenpeace said the visit is significant because of the Rainbow Warrior’s historical connection with New Zealand. The original Rainbow Warrior sank in Auckland Harbour in 1985 after she was sunk by an explosives charge set by French intelligence agents, killing a Dutch photographer. Greenpeace said the new Rainbow Warrior, built in Poland and Germany, is fitted with a helicopter landing pad, scientific research facilities and a satellite communications system. She is also designed to be more energy efficient and sails primarily using wind power, with diesel-electric engines for backup. She is registered in Amsterdam. Her hull was built by Maritim Shipyard Sp z oo – Gdansk, Poland, and she was completed by Fr Fassmer GmbH & Co KG – Berne, Germany, in October 2011. She is 57.92 metres length overall, 11.3 metres beam. She is fitted with two masts so that she can sail and minimize her fuel consumption, but is fitted with a Caterpillar diesel engine, which gives a maximum speed of 15 knots.
History of the Rainbow Warriors:
1978 – The first Rainbow Warrior was commissioned. Greenpeace’s first ship was an old trawler formerly used by the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. She was 418 gross tonnage, built in 1955 as Sir William Hardy, and purchased by Greenpeace in 1977. She was given a major refit until April 1978.
1985 – French intelligence agents sank Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour on 10th July. She was preparing to lead a flotilla of yachts to the Mururoa Atoll in French Polynesia to protest against France’s nuclear testing in the area. She was eventually salvaged, and then scuttled as a dive site in Matauri Bay, Northland on 12th December 1987. She was later joined on the seabed there by the retired Navy ships HMNZS Tui and HMNZS Waikato. Her two masts were given to the Dargaville Museum, and they were erected on the grass lawn outside that museum.
1989 – Greenpeace commissioned their second Rainbow Warrior, a 44.2 metre vessel. She was used in protests against whaling and the use of coal and palm oil. (She was built as the trawler Kashmir in 1957, was renamed Ross Kashmir in 1962, renamed Grampian Fame in 1982, and renamed Rainbow Warrior in November 1989.)
2011 – The second Rainbow Warrior was retired from service and sold to a non-government organisation in Bangladesh to service as a hospital ship. She was renamed Rongdhonu (555 gross tonnage, built 1957) in August 2011, registered at Chittagong, and is operated by Friendship.
The third Rainbow Warrior entered service on 14th October 2012. Prior to a brief call at Bluff, she was used to make a documentary film in the sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands, helped by Rob Hamill, previously an Olympic rower for New Zealand. She had needed to be drydocked at Lyttelton prior to sailing to the sub-Antarctic Islands, but she had been delayed in drydocking at Lyttelton because of some issues caused by her predecessor, which had blocked the bulk carrier Hellenic Sea,(36,448 gross tonnage, built 1991) from leaving port on 25th March 2008, laden with coal. From Bluff she sailed to Wellington, where she arrived on 11th February 2013. She sailed on 17th February for Auckland, then sailed to Melbourne and Sydney.
Some Union Company Ships Still Afloat (by Ian Farquhar)
Although the last Union Steam Ship Company ship, Union Rotoma, was sold thirteen years ago, a handful of former Union Company vessels are still afloat, or in service in the northern hemisphere. The oldest is the former 1970-built ro/ro Wanaka, which ran on the Auckland/Dunedin service from 1970 to 1973 and then the Trans Tasman trade to 1975. She was then laid up in Dunedin and sold to Greek interests in 1976; operating in the eastern Mediterranean until being chartered for five years to Brittany Ferries. Under her Greek owners she had been renamed Rata Hills 1976-78, then Iniochos Express 1978-80 and for her service with Brittany Ferries between Plymouth and Roscoff in France from 1980 to 1989 she was renamed Briezh-Izel under French registry. In 1990 she was sold to Marlines S.A. of Piraeus and was progressively renamed Duchess M 1989-00, Balbek 2000-01 and then back to Duchess M – all three names under the Cypriot registry. She was also employed as a hotel ship for the G8 Summit before operating a regular service from Bari to Igoumenitsa via Corfu. She was finally withdrawn from service in 2006 and has been laid up in Eleusis Bay, Greece since 2nd September 2007. Marlines significantly upgraded the vessel with an upper vehicle deck served by a lift and extra decks were added to provide for the ability to carry 1000 day passengers and 250 motor vehicles. She was still advertised for sale throughout 2012.
The second oldest ship still in service is the former Union Wellington. Intended to be chartered to the Union Company from her Swedish owners – Stena Line - when she was launched as Stena Shipper in 1973, she was subsequently sold to the Union Company so a New Zealand crew could be employed. She was taken over in Rotterdam in 1974 but soon proved too small for the growing Trans Tasman trade and she was laid up in Wellington in November 1975. Sold to Greek owners in 1976 and renamed Alpha Express in 1977, she was lengthened by 27 metres at Rendsburg to make her operation more viable. Her Greek owners failed and Stena Line re-purchased her in 1980 and she ran for a year as Stena Shipper. She was then chartered to a London company and operated cross-channel from Harwich to Zeebrugge as the Speedlink Vanguard from 1980-87. In December 1982 she collided with, and partially sank, the British ferry European Gateway off Felixstowe with the loss of six lives. Returned to Stena Line in 1987 she was briefly renamed Stena Shipper before being chartered out as Caribe Express 1988, Stena Shipper 1988, Kirk Shipper 1988-89, and then Normandie Shipper 1989-92. She remained in cross channel service until 1993 before being laid up in the Caen Canal from 1995-99. She was re-activated in 1999 as the Bonavista 1999-01 under Bahamian registry. She was sold to Trond A. Kittilsen Shipping of Stathelle, Norway in 2001 and renamed Boa Vista operating between Norwegian coastal ports with her registry changing to Norway in 2003-04. In 2004 ownership passed to Thraki Shipping Corporation, and she was placed under Panamanian registry as the Boa Vista. She travelled from Hamburg to Dubai and for the next three years ran from Arabian Gulf ports (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Umm Qasr) to Indian Ocean ports. In 2007 she was sold to Birlik Isletmeleri of Turkey operating between the Russian Black Sea port of Sevastopol and Zonguldak in Turkey under the Turkish flag as Birlik 1 under her eleventh name. The other two ro-ro vessels which have had a long life operating out of Mediterranean ports have been the former Union Hobart and Union Lyttelton. Built in Norway in 1976 and 1977 respectively for the Chandris Group they were employed on the Trans Tasman service from Sydney and Melbourne to South Island ports from 1977 to 1983. They were then transferred to the Melbourne – Hobart run, being renamed Seaway Hobart 1984 and Seaway Melbourne in 1983. Their time charters terminated in 1988 and 1989 and the Union Company exercised its option to purchase the ships. Seaway Hobart was sold to Greek owners in 1993 being renamed Seaway 1 with Cypriot registry. In 1994 she was extensively refitted as a passenger/car ferry and renamed Agia Methodia 1994-95, then to Bahamanian owners as Euromantique in 1995. Finally in 2000 she became Taxiarchis under Greek owners and she is still in service operating between the Greek ports of Lavrion and Kapala. Sister ship Seaway Melbourne had a brief lay-up in Melbourne 1992 before being sold to Maltese owners and renamed Seaway. Later in the year she was sold to Dem Line of Egypt, managed by a Beirut company and was renamed Fast Trader under Maltese registry. She operated to a range of Mediterranean ports such as Marseilles, Leghorn, and Limassol to Port Said, Tangiers and Alexandria. She was sold to Greek owners in 2001 as the Aegean Star mainly operating between Italian and Cypriot ports to Greece, with off-season periods of lay-up from 20 December 2011. Both ships had some limited passenger accommodation fitted. The coastal tanker Taiko which was sold to Singaporean owners under the Panamanian register in 2007 was sold for scrapping and arrived at Alang
Defence Force Cuts Heavily Criticised
In late January 2013, the auditor-general issued a highly critical report on the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) cuts, saying they would fail to meet savings targets and had led to a drop in morale and capability. The Government told the Defence Force in 2010 to reduce costs so money could be redistributed within the military. The civilianisation project was one of several the defence force initiated in response. But Auditor-General Lyn Provost said it had achieved only “limited success”.
“It will not achieve the target of converting 1400 military positions and saving NZ$20.5 million a year by 2014/15. “Instead, 600 military positions will be converted and we estimate savings of $14.2m a year by 2014/15. In addition a drop in morale and increase in staff attrition has led to reduced NZDF capability.” A media article in February 2013 said that The New Zealand Navy was relying on Australian sailors to keep it afloat as skilled New Zealand crew left in droves for higher-paid jobs across the Tasman. There were now about 20 Australian sailors at the Devonport naval base in Auckland One patrol vessel has been tied up for a year, and two others for seven months, because of recruitment and staffing issues. Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman this week confirmed that the offshore patrol vessel H.M.N.Z.S.Wellington had been laid up since June 2012 but was scheduled in March 2013 to be used for sea training before a deployment in the southwest Pacific. All four inshore patrol vessels Hawea, Pukaki, Taupo,and Rotoiti had failed to meet their combined “days at sea” target since 2011.
Arrival of “Terra Nova” at Oamaru in 1913 Remembered
On 10 February 2013 morse code was in the air in Oamaru, one of the final acts in honouring Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his party of four who died on their way back from the South Pole, with four days of events believed to be the only commemoration outside the United Kingdom. The Oamaru Scott 100 centenary was the only major event held outside the United Kingdom to mark the ill-fated Antarctic expedition. It was from the Oamaru Post Office on 10th February 1913, that a secret coded telegram was sent first to Christchurch and then to London, so that sponsors of the Scott Antarctic Expedition would be the first to learn of the deaths of Captain Scott, Dr Edward Wilson, Captain Lawrence Oates, Lieutenant Henry Bowers and Petty Officer Edgar Evans on the ice. The expedition ship Terra Nova arrived off the Oamaru Harbour about 2a.m. and left two of her crew to send the telegram, before sailing off for Lyttelton after stopping for about 35 minutes. The telegram was recalled in one of the last events since the Scott 100 started in Oamaru on 6th February. Outside the Post Office, the news stories resulting from that telegram were read out again, while how the telegram was sent, including locking the morse code operator in the telegraph room until it was received in London, was outlined. But the most moving ceremony took place earlier, at 6a.m. at the harbour where the crew members landed 100 years ago, challenged by the night watchman, Neil Mackinnon, and demanding to see harbour master Captain Ramsay, to explain their secret task. Oamaru man Evan Blair recreated the night watchman’s challenge, right down to the Scots accent, while a cast re-enacted the landing. Later on the morning of 10th February a wreath was laid at the Scott Memorial Oak, planted in 1913 in Arun St to mark Terra Nova’s visit. On 9th February the centenary was marked by the unveiling of a plaque at the Oamaru Harbour next to the original night watchman's hut at the end of Sumpter Wharf, where the two crew landed, commemorating the centenary of the landing. The unveiling was done by the granddaughter of Captain Scott, Nicola Starks, who had come from Suffolk for the celebrations, and Waitaki Mayor Alex Familton. The United Kingdom Antarctic Trust, had organised events in the United Kingdom, starting in June 2010, at Cardiff to mark the sailing of Terra Nova. They will conclude at Cardiff in June 2013.
Wreck of “Limerick” Found After WW2 Sinking
In February 2013 it was announced that the e wreckage of the cargo ship Limerick (8,734 gross tonnage, built 1925) had been found off the New South Wales coast almost seventy years after she was torpedoed by the Japanese submarine I-26 on 26 April 1943, about twenty miles SE of Cape Byron, NSW. She was part of a coastal convoy from Sydney to Brisbane when she was struck by a torpedo at 1a.m. on Anzac Day in 1943. Of the 72 crew on board when she sank, two went down with the ship, a New Zealand engineer and an Australian officer. The remaining seventy spent ten hours in lifeboats or on rafts until they were rescued by the minesweeper H.M.A.S Colac. A fisherman at Ballina, about 100 kilometres south of the Gold Coast, identified the shipwreck in 100 metres of water about 18 kilometres off the coast during 2012. University of Sydney geologist Associate Professor Tom Hubble led the team on board the research vessel Southern Surveyor (1,594 gross tonnage, built 1972) that took an hour of its research time to map the wreck using 3D imaging. “It was amazing to see the sea floor images come to life as the sea floor mapping technology transformed the data into a 3D graphic of the shipwreck,” Dr Hubble said. “Finding the wreck of Limerick is in the national interest. We were already in the area, we had the necessary technology and technical expertise on board, and it didn’t take long to create a 3D image of the wreck” At the time of her loss, she was owned by Irish Counties Steamers, London, and was managed by Uuion Steam Ship Company of New Zealand Ltd.
Cableship “Ile de Sein” in Cook Strait
The French cable ship Ile de Sein, (13,978 gross tonnage, built 2001) arrived at Wellington on 14th March 2013 from Singapore to repair and relay fibre optic cable off Oteranga Bay. On 16th March she loaded fibre optic cable from a large reel at Aotea Quay, and she sailed from Wellington into Cook Strait on 17th March to carry out this task. She was assisted off Oteranga Bay by the
Wellington tug Toia on 20th and 21st March. On completion of her cable work, she sailed on 28th March for South America. The cable was damaged by a vessel anchoring in a place it shouldn’t have -in the Cable Protection Zone. Ile de Sein made international media news in 2011 when she recovered from over 3,600 metres depth the “black box” voice recorder from Air France Flight 447, which was an Airbus A330 jetliner which crashed into the Atlantic Ocean on 1st June 2009, killing all 228 people onboard, whilst flying through a severe thunderstorms.
Although many may recall “recent history” that the first Cook Strait power cables were laid in 1964 by the chartered Stag Line cargo ship Photinia (7,660 gross, built 1961), the first telegraphic link between North and South Islands was established between Lyall Bay and Whites Bay, Marlborough on 26th August 1866. The cable was laid by iron clipper ship Weymouth (830 net tons), which had arrived in Wellington on 3rd July 1866 with the cable to be laid in Cook Strait from London. She was towed from Wellington on 27th July 1866 by the steamer Taranaki (414 gross tonnage, built 1865), with the paddle steamer Sturt (157 tons, built 1856) acting as a tender between the larger ships. Laying started on 27th July 1866 and was completed on 26th August 1866. Between 1867 and 1873 a manned station was operated from Whites Bay. The seven copper conductor wires in the cable were insulated with gutta-percha and covered with tarred jute. Around this were laid spirally twelve galvanized wires, and the whole finished with tarred hemp and another compound. The Whites Bay telegraphic station ceased operation in October 1873, when the staff and equipment were moved to Blenheim in the paddle steamer Osprey( gross tonnage, built 1868). Early Cook Strait cables were internal telegraph and telephone connections. Kangaroo (1,773 gross tonnage, built 1853) laid a cable between Wanganui and Wakapuaka in 1880. Another telephone cable was laid across Cook Strait by Recorder (2,253 gross tonnage, built 1902) in 1937, and another in 1945. Photinia laid the first power cable end at Oteranga Bay, North Island, on 12th November 1964, and the other end of the cable was laid in Fighting Bay, South Island, the following day, assisted by the coaster Arran Firth (500 gross tonnage, built 1957). Photinia returned to New Zealand in May 1977 to repair one of the power cables. In 1983 the coaster Luminence (1,596 gross tonnage, built 1977) was chartered to repair one of the power cables. In 1991 the cable ship Skagerrak (7,172 gross tonnage built 1976) laid three new power cables to replace the 1964 cables. Several fibre-optic cables have also been laid around the New Zealand coast in the last few decades, some by Seawork’s craft Sea Watch (125 gross tonnage, built 1978) and Sea Ranger (2,567 gross tonnage, built 1982). The days of the white-painted yacht-like cable ships owned by Cable & Wireless are long gone, and the last “proper” cable ship seen in Wellington was Pacific Guardian (6,133 gross tonnage, built 1984) which repaired a Cook Strait fibre optic cable in July 2000.
In Vol.56, No.1, we featured photos of the passenger ship Doulos (6,818 gross tonnage, built 1914) sailing from Wellington for the last time on 25th July 2008. She failed her surveys in Singapore in 2009 and it was thought that she would go for scrap. However, Singaporean Christian businessman Eric Saw acquired the ship, which was renamed Doulos Phos (meaning “servant light”) for use as a static museum, restaurant and Christian centre in Singapore. Her history has been previously narrated, but in 1959, when she was Franca C, she became the first Costa Line ship to be exclusively allocated to American cruising. This major Italian passenger line was restyled Costa Armatori S.p.A. in 1967, and in the following year the company introduced fly-cruises based in San Juan. In 1986, the company was renamed Costa Crociere S.p.A. In December 1996 the shareholders sold the company to Airtours of U.K. and Carnival Corporation. In 2001 Carnival Corporation purchased Airtours shares in Costa, and the latter company then became a full subsidiary. Costa Crociere are, of course, owners of the infamous Costa Concordia (114,147 gross tonnage, built 2006) which sank after hitting rocks on 13th January 2012 off Isola Giglio, in the Mediterranean Sea.
“Kota Lukis” in Near Miss at Tauranga
The container ship Kota Lukis (39,906 gross tonnage, built 2010) nearly crashed into Mount Maunganui wharf and two vessels after her engine failed when leaving port. She lost power as she was leaving the berth at Sulphur Point on 12th March 2013, causing men to flee from two vessels moored at the wharf. It is understood that she nearly struck to the salvage tug Resolve Commander and the fishing vessel Adelaide Pearl. Tugs had sailed her from Sulphur Point, but had released their towlines to return to their berths when she lost power. The tugs, combined with the ship dropping anchor, brought her under control before she collided with anything. The engine failure meant hydraulic steering was also lost, leaving the unpowered ship heading towards the Mount Maunganui wharf. Collision was prevented by the tug s turning the ship, which came within 40 metres of the wharf, and the pilot ordering the anchor to be dropped. The main engine was then able to be re-started and Kota Lukis continued to an anchorage outside the port where the engine controls were inspected and data was taken by a Maritime New Zealand inspector. The grounding of the log carrier Hanjin Bombay on 21st June 2010 was caused by an engine failure. On 23rd October, 2011, the container ship Schelde Trader ran aground between North West Rock and North Rock after losing power when departing the Port of Tauranga. She was also saved from serious damage by quick anchoring. Kota Lukis is powered by an eight cylinder in-line two-stroke, slow speed, marine diesel burning heavy fuel oil that produces 36,560kw or 49,680bhp. The cylinder bore is 900mm, the stroke 2300mm. The engine is started by compressed air and the heavy fuel has to be pre-heated by steam before it can be used in the main engine. Steam is generated either by an auxiliary boiler, or by hot exhaust gases from the main engine passing over the tubes of an exhaust gas economiser in the funnel uptakes. Kota Lukis sailed later the same day for Port Kelang.
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