Compiled by Michael Pryce with the assistance of M. Berthold, A. Calvert, D. Crisp, I. J. Farquhar, J. Freeman, D. Gardner, N. Kirby, R. J. McDougall, D. Meehan, N. Olson and from the newsletters of the Hawke's Bay and Bay of Plenty Branches of the Society.
New Berth for “Challenger”
As we mentioned in Vol.53, Nos.3 & 4, a new berth for Toll-Shipping’s large new Interislander ferry Challengerwas constructed on the eastern side of the Dock Wharf in Wellington. Construction progress was much slower than Toll had wanted. Initially it was said that it would be ready for use by mid-November 2005. An issue of their “Nautical Miles” newsletter subsequently said that it would be ready by mid-December 2005, in time for the peak Christmas holiday period. However, by early December the berth was still a long way from completion, with earliest completion date estimated to be mid-January 2006. Rather than move between terminals part-way through their busy holiday passenger season, Interislander made the decision that they would not rush things, bearing in mind the possibility of further delays, and decided not to plan to move there until 1st February 2006. This date was also missed, and it was 13th February before Challenger started to use the berth for the evening freight sailings, and 20th February for all sailings. Even then, passengers continued to have to board via the bow door, and it was expected to be April 2006 until the shore boarding gangway system was completed and fully operational.
Construction work at “RFT 3” consisted of the driving of heavy steel piles and construction of the linkspan at the northern end of the berth. On the old Dock Wharf, after the former Dock Master’s office at the northern end of the wharf had been demolished in early November 2005, five large concrete berthing pads were grouted into the original concrete decking of the wharf. On to the outside of these were fitted heavy-duty berthing pads/fenders, designed to allow Challenger to berth bow north and port side to alongside the new berth; heavy chains held them in position. Steel mooring bollards needed to be fitted along the eastern side of Dock Wharf to enable Challenger to moor safely. None, of course, had ever been fitted when the Jubilee Floating Dock lay there in fulfillment of the purpose for which the wharf was built. Many of the steel bollards were removed and repositioned from the other (western) side of the wharf. These had been originally fitted when the Dock Wharf was first built, and allowed the berthing of Wellington Harbour Board vessels there, and later oil tankers that discharged at Dock Wharf. However, the bollards removed were ones that had not generally been used after RFT2 was built there in about 1966, as the ferries only used bollards near their stern linkspan and at their bows the southern end of the berth. Fenders and mooring bollards for the new berth were all in place by mid-December 2005.
Also constructed on Dock Wharf was a seven-storey-high passenger boarding tower structure and associated foot-passenger gangway. Leading from the bottom of this structure alongside the western side of DockWharf, northwards towards the terminal buildings was to be constructed an escalator structure to provide sheltered access to Challenger in bad weather.
Challenger at her new RFT3 berth in Wellington with additional Kaitaki name on the bow. Photo: M H Pryce
Challenger made her first trial berthing at RFT3 on the evening of 18th December 2005. She made a second trial of the berth on the evening of 14th January 2006. Construction work on the new berth was slow over the holiday period. The floating crane Hikitia was used on 20th January 2006 to help to lift two heavy sections of steel linkspans into position, and Challenger made a third berthing trial on 6th February.
The new berth location for Challenger is not ideal. The existing ferry terminal arrangements have disembarking passengers coming ashore down the passenger gangway into an arrivals terminal, keeping them separate from passengers waiting to board a subsequent sailing. The arrangements for Challengerpassengers to board and disembark do not result in disembarking passengers getting directly to the arrival terminal. Instead, they need to walk across the seaward side of the departure terminal to get there. However, the new location obviates the need for Challenger to sail through Lambton Harbour and provides more room for manoeuvring.
After 20th February 2006 the berth previously in temporary use at Interisland Wharf (and the adjacent Lynx terminal buildings) lay unused and silent, in stark contrast to the previous busy traffic using the area.
After what are often termed “the usual teething problems” described in our last edition, Challenger settled down to routine service. On 21st, 22nd and 23rd December 2005 the evening normally-freight-only sailings were also made available for passengers in vehicles to help them to get across Cook Strait during the busy peak holiday season. These sailed from Wellington at 8p.m., arrived at Picton at 11p.m., sailed from Picton at 00.30a.m. and arrived at Wellington at 3.30a.m.
The delay in moving to her new berth at RFT3 caused the anticipated congestion when the ship unloaded atWellington on her afternoon arrivals, with the large number of cars taking a long time to clear the ship and the traffic lights on to the road out of Wellington. From 22nd December for a few of the peak traffic days, cars leaving Challenger were able to drive off and through the Strait Shipping terminal and on to the adjacent road through CentrePort in order to quickly get them off the ship.
Challenger sailed from Wellington on 23rd December 2005 with over 1,600 persons on board, her first “full load” sailing. On 26th December 2005 Challenger had “Kaitaki” painted on her starboard bow under her official name, but it was 31st January 2006 before “Kaitaki” was similarly painted on her port bow.
From 20th to 22nd December Aratere and Arahura were running up to two hours late because the passenger boarding gangway at Wellington’s RFT2 was defective and unusable. Passengers needed to board and leave the ferries via the rail deck, and this combined with large numbers of passengers to cause much-slower turnaround times than normal.
Salmon Farm Adrift in Tory Channel
It is not unknown for ferries to be delayed by bad weather or by various engine problems, but a new reason to delay ferries arose on 1st March 2006. A large salmon farm owned by King Salmon and moored off Te Pangu Bay broke all its moorings and was adrift in Tory Channel. The large structure was bigger than a football field and had salmon cages containing about one million salmon slung beneath it extending down to a depth of eighteen metres. The Marlborough District Council, Harbourmaster closed Tory Channel to shipping for a few hours. Ferries had to use the northern entrance via Queen Charlotte Sound, and this added about an hour onto their voyages. Local tugs took charge of the drifting salmon farm and held it in a safe area until the cause of it breaking adrift could be established and replacement moorings fitted.
New Wellington Container Cranes
The cargo ship BBC England (7,576 gross tonnage, built 2003) sailed from Fenit Port, Ireland on 7th January 2006 with two new Liebherr container cranes and equipment to assist with their erection in Wellington. Manufactured by Liebherr Container Cranes Limited in Killarney, Ireland, the new quayside cranes each took over 650 tonnes of steel to construct. BBC England arrived in the Panama Canal on 30th January 2006, transited the canal on 1st February 2006 and arrived at Wellington on 26th February 2006. Discharge of the crane parts took five days.
During January 2006 Wellington’s northern container crane (of 1973 vintage) was slowly demolished over a period of about three weeks. Following the commissioning of the two new cranes, another of the older cranes will be dismantled and removed from the wharf. The new cranes were expected to take twelve weeks to assemble and will stand at sixtythree metres at full height. The cranes were to be assembled in the south-west corner of the port’s Container Terminal, and moved onto their quayside rails once construction has been completed.
Strait Shipping Ltd.
Strait Shipping Ltd. operated their usual enhanced ferry services during the Christmas holiday period withSanta Regina making three return crossings every second day from 17th December 2005 to 6th January 2006, sailing from Wellington at 1a.m., 10.30a.m. and 7p.m. and from Picton at 6a.m., 3p.m. and 11p.m. On the alternate days she just made her normal two return crossings, from Wellington at 3a.m. and 1p.m. and from Picton at 8a.m. and 7p.m. She then operated three return sailings on Saturdays only from 7th January to 4th February 2006.
As previously mentioned in Vol.53, No.4, hand over of Strait Shipping’s new acquisition Monte Stello took place in Las Palmas on 10th January 2006. She sailed from there on the afternoon of 18th January 2006 bound forNew Zealand via the Panama Canal. She arrived at Cristobal anchorage on 31st January and remained there until 14th February to rectify some engine problems, and did not clear the Pacific end of the canal at Balboa until 15th February. She called at Papeete on 27th February for bunkers and arrived in Auckland in early March 2006, and after undergoing work afloat, went into Devonport drydock in mid-March. She was planned to come out of drydock at the end of March and arrive in Wellington in early April 2006. Her first couple of trips were planned to be with freight-only before commencing passenger-carrying service.
In mid- December 2005 the scow Echo was advertised for sale at Picton by Tim and Denise Dare. The advertisement in the commercial property page of the Marlborough Express stated:- “Picton Marina - Echo. The scow Echo is dry berthed in Picton Marina. She has now been renovated for use as a cafe and bar in conjunction with the historical significance of the trading scows. Current developments in Picton assure plenty of opportunity to grow. Expressions of interest by 1st April 2006”. No asking price was quoted.
End of the “Banana Boats”
In late November 2005 NYK Lauritzen Cool announced the termination of their West Coast North America service, both northbound and southbound. From January 2006 Maersk Line will carry the bananas weekly from Ecuador to Auckland, via their container “hub” in Manzanillo (Panama). In future, all banana containers are to be discharged in Auckland with Pacifica Shipping Ltd. carrying the South Island containers to Lyttelton on board Spirit of Resolution.
The annual meat negotiations were running at the same time as those for bananas. Another reason for the decision to cease carrying bananas was the loss of the Penguin class ships, with their long-term charters terminating at the end of 2005. The conventional reefer market is currently very buoyant and the inability to charter the right-sized vessels at competitive prices became the final determining factor.
So ended a special piece of maritime business with the conclusion of a fortynine-year-old contract between the banana importers and Lauritzen. This ran from the initial days of the quasi-government organisation Fruit Distributors, which later restyled in a deregulated environment into Pacific Produce and more latterly came under the aegis of Turners & Growers. It was of quite gentlemanly fashion, as the contract was usually sealed with a handshake each year. The last conventional reefer “banana boat” to discharge around theNew Zealand coast was in March 2006.
On 14th November 2005 the passenger launch Glenroyal (see Vol.52, No.4, and Vol.53, No.2) was careened in the Mokau Estuary for the purpose of a two-yearly survey and painting. Glenroyal was beached at high tide in the morning just upriver from the road bridge (State Highway 3) on the Taranaki (south) side of the estuary. The bridge pier was used as a “deadman”, together with another one embedded further upriver. Glenroyalwas refloated that evening and proceeded in the dark, with the assistance of port and starboard mounted spotlights, five kilometres upriver to her regular mooring adjacent to Te Mahoe Road.
FPSO for Tui Offshore Oil Field
In late November 2005 it was announced that development of the Tui area oil fields off Taranaki was set to begin. Two major equipment contracts had been signed and others were in the pipeline, said project partner New Zealand Oil & Gas (NZOG). Under a joint venture project with New Zealand Overseas Petroleum, the Tui, Amokura and Pateke oil fields will be developed. They were discovered by the joint venture in 2003 and 2004 and are estimated to have recoverable oil reserves of 26.8 million barrels.
Prosafe Production Services was contracted to provide a Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel for the development. The $US178 million ($NZ262 million) contract is for a fixed initial term of five years. The FPSO is scheduled to arrive early in the June 2007 quarter. Excluding the cost of the FPSO lease, the capital budget for the development is $US26 million. The Tui fields are in the offshore Taranaki Basin, and will be the country’s first stand-alone offshore oil development.
The joint venture has already signed a contract with Diamond Offshore for the use of a semi-submersible rig. Drilling of the four development wells is expected to start in the final quarter of 2006 and take about six months to complete. The rig could also be used to drill up to three exploration wells. NZOG said as well as the FPSO and drilling rig contracts, it was close to finalising contracts for all other major equipment and services.
The main market for the Tui Area oil is expected to be the Asia Pacific region including Australian East Coast refineries.
Prosafe Production intend to purchase and convert the 1981-built, 119,900-tonnes-deadweight tanker Ionikosfor the FPSO role in the project, with the first oil to be produced in the second quarter of 2007. Prosafe has a five-year lease contract for the vessel and options for a further five years of operation on the Tui field. Ionikos(67,684 gross tonnage, built 1981) ex-Star Trader in 1993, and ex-Kyokuwa Maru in 1989, built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, at Nagasaki and is currently operated by Liquimar Tankers Management Inc., Piraeus. She arrived at Singapore on 26th January 2006.
Also in late November was announced another oilfield development. The Maari oilfield partners announced the $US360 million ($NZ530 million) project, the biggest offshore oil development in New Zealand. The operator of the Maari field is Austrian explorer OMV, which is also a shareholder in the big Pohokura gasfield being developed. The first oil from Maari, eighty kilometres off the South Taranaki coast, is expected to come on stream in March-April 2008. Output is expected to be 35,000 barrels a day. Maari is estimated to have reserves of 50 million barrels and a field life of more than ten years. The development comprises an unmanned wellhead platform, a FPSO facility, five production and three water-injection wells.
Ferries in Fiji
In October 2005 two former New Zealand ferries had minor scrapes in Fiji. Inter-island ferry Sinu-I-Wasa(1,481 gross tonnage built 1972, ex-Straitsman) had minor collisions with two other ships. The incident is said to have happened on 9th October 2005 at Taveuni Wharf. Sinu-I-Wasa allegedly struck the passenger ferrySpirit of Fiji Islands (4,421 gross tonnage built 1968) and then hit Suilven (3,638 gross tonnage, built 1974) as she was making her way to the wharf. It was claimed Sinu-I-Wasa’s port engine failed. Sinu-I-Wasasustained only minor paint scratches. Spirit of Fiji Islands was scraped along the port side from midships to bow. She suffered only superficial paint damage with minor denting. Suilven (in service between Vanua Levu,Viti Levu and Taveuni) sustained minor structural damage.
Venu Shipping of Suva, as well as operating Sinu-I-Wasa, also now operate Sinu-I-Wasa II, which is a landing craft, and Sinu-I-Wasa Tolu, which is the recently-acquired Adi Savusavu (1,721 gross tonnage, built 1964), whose story and photograph featured in Vol.53, No.3 on pages151 and 152. Venu Shipping is now the largest local ship operator in Fiji.
Former “Union Sydney”
The former Union Sydney, now the Moroccan-flag Azzahra (20,344 gross tonnage, built 1978), was damaged on her port side at Gibraltar on the morning of 2nd December 2005 after dragging anchor and striking rocks off the South Mole. Damage consisted of a 1.2 metre gash in No.1 port forward tank, below the waterline, and she leaked a few hundred litres of diesel oil into the sea. Divers repaired the underwater damage with cement and epoxy.
Fishing Vessel “Marinui”
The fishing vessel Marinui (built 1983) arrived at Lyttelton on 1st December 2005 and is apparently replacingTasnui which has been fishing out of the port. She is ex-Daitichi Maru No. 1 in 1992, ex-Daitoku No. 11 in 2003, ex-Daitoku Maru No. 11 in 2004, ex-Garmoniya.
Fresh from scuttling the decommissioned frigate H.M.N.Z.S. Wellington, off the south coast of her eponymous city, in mid-December 2005 Marco Zeeman had a plan to sink the ship featured in Peter Jacksons much-bruited film “King Kong” off Mana Island, not very far round the southwest corner of the North Island from where theWellington lies. The scheme would involve the underwriting of up to $400,000 from Porirua City Council, justified presumably by its proximity to Mana Island. Mr. Zeeman, named last during November 2005 as Wellingtonian of the Year for his work with the F69 Trust in turning the old frigate into a dive wreck, had plans to do the same with the “Kong” ship with the same end in view. “A vessel off Porirua would have large benefits for the community. If there's a possibility to put a shipwreck off Mana Island, why not?” The F69 Trust chairman had helped Peter Jackson with the nautical logistics of filming the “Kong” movie. The ship, originally called Manuia but renamed Venture to keep faith with the story and screenplay, of the original version of the film, was bought by ship surveyor Roger Kempthorne after it was no longer needed for filming. A twentysix-metre-deep area to the northeast of Mana Island had been identified as an ideal sinking site. Full details of the proposal, dubbed Project Venture, were to be discussed by Porirua City Council. However, plans were initially stalled when councillors made it clear they were not interested in coming up with the $400,000, to buy and sink the ship as a dive attraction.
Councillor Ken Douglas led doubts about the project’s viability, and about a recommendation to underwrite $250,000 with the difference being met by some alternative source. He called the ship “a lump of junk” someone “wants to dump in our backyard”.
He was concerned the proposal went straight to the council rather than through the committee process, had been insufficiently analysed and would further strain ratepayers. Mayor Jenny Brash and David Stanley were the only ones supporting the plan.
The engines of the old coaster were removed ashore on 1st February 2006 and further stripping work took place, but she was still berthed at Miramar Wharf at the end of February 2006 awaiting a decision on her future.
Another ship of the same type arrived in Auckland in October 2005. This was Lissa, registered as a private yacht and registered at Avatiu in the Cook Islands, the registered owner being Alpha Zee Ltd. whose principal is Mr. Chris Packer. Her hull was launched on 17th December 1955 as Solklint at the Foxhol yard of Ferus Smit v/h Smit & Zoon (Yard No. 120) but was completed on 2nd May 1956 at the Delfzjil yard of Gebr. Niestern Scheepswerven N.V. (Yard No. 250) for a Swedish owner. Only the builders plate of Gebr. Niestern was attached to the accommodation bulkhead on board. Her main particulars are essentially the same as the former Manuia but in 1975 she was re-engined. In 1977 she was sold and renamed Nea, then in 1979 was resold and renamed Lissa. In 1999 she was purchased by her present owner, Mr. Chris Packer, and she was refitted at the Lithuanian port of Klypedia. She had apparently spent her entire life trading between ports in the Baltic Sea. After refit she was used for cruising in the Mediterranean and Caribbean, then continued south down the east coast of South America, northward to Peru, then crossed the Pacific via the Galapagos Islands to Sydney in December 2003. She visited other Australian ports in the following months. She arrived inAuckland in October 2005, and then was in Nelson for refit from 30th January 2006 until 19th February 2006.
A serious fire damaged the Evans Bay premises of the Navy League Sea Cadets T.S. Amokura early on the morning of Thursday 15th December 2005. The fifty-year-old building, originally the terminal building for the Tasman Empire Airline’s trans-Tasman flying boat passenger service in the early to mid 1950s, was completely destroyed, along with the unit’s uniforms, equipment, records and memorabilia.
All the boats were saved, though their boat shed is detached from the main building and their launch Viking is on a marina berth well away from the premises-and parades have resumed with the members out on the water as usual. The cause of the fire was thought to be electrical, arising from the age of the building.
T.S. Amokura is one of the Navy Leauge sea cadet units, and is mentioned in “N.Z. Naval Vessels”, page 160. It is, of course, named after the sail training ship Amokura of 1907-1921, see “N.Z. Naval Vessels” page 170.
The unit arranged temporary accommodation in the Sea Scout building, which was currently not in use. The fire-damaged section of building had been demolished by 1st January 2006.
Port Taranaki Wins $80 million Coal Contract
Port Taranaki has won an NZ$80 million contract to export coal from a new mine on the South Island’s West Coast. The contract, initially for eighteen years, will transform the port to second only to Lyttelton in terms of coal tonnages handled. At its height, the operation will see the port handling 1.3 million tonnes of coal a year, a figure that will represent more than thirty per cent of Port Taranaki’s entire cargo tonnages. The contract was signed on 22nd December 2005 between Pike River Coal Company Ltd and the transport consortium, the West Coast Coal Company, and represents an $80 million operation. Port Taranaki will be responsible for all aspects of handling, transporting and exporting the coal from the new Pike River mine north of Greymouth.
The coal is of the highest grade with very low sulphur content, and will be used mostly in the manufacture of steel. It will be shipped from Greymouth in two small coastal bulk ships, purpose-built to handle the river bar, to Port Taranaki, one arriving there with a cargo of 10,500 tonnes every three days. At Port Taranaki, it will be stockpiled and then shipped in Panamax (bulk-size) vessels, carrying up to 65,000 tonnes at a time, to export markets in Asia, India, South America and Europe.
Pike River Coal Company Ltd. (PRCC) general manager Gordon Ward described the new transport route as a major innovation for New Zealand’s coal export industry which opened up significant opportunities for expansion. The first coal production is planned for March 2007 and the first coal shipments will follow some months later.
Port Taranaki would also take advantage of the new developments. They will include a new crane capable of handling 800 tonnes of coal an hour, construction of load-out equipment to load the bulk carriers at rates of up to 2,000 tonnes an hour, and some modification of Moturoa Wharf. A total of $90 million is to be invested in developing facilities at the port for this trade. They facilities will be able to be used for other dry bulk trades Port Taranaki may attract in the future, such as fertiliser and further coal.
West Coast Coal Company (not to be confused with the historical Westport Coal Company!) comprises Port Taranaki Ltd., Nelson-based road transport company TNL Group, New Plymouth-based shipping management company Wendell Group, and Norwegian bulk shipping specialists Jebsens International. TNL’s principal shareholders are Five Star Distribution (owned by New Plymouth’s Hooker Bros Holdings Ltd and United Carriers Ltd), and Neil Reid (fifty per cent). The TNL group will be responsible for trucking the coal from the minehead at Ikamatua to the Greymouth wharf.
Greymouth Coal Exports
The coal export contract covered in the previous item is, of course, also of great significance for Greymouth, and various articles appeared in the media explaining the situation from Greymouth’s point of view.
One such said:- “A contract to move up to 1.3 million tonnes of coal a year through Greymouth will revitalise the town's port, which was once earmarked for closure. The rundown port has been boosted by news that Pike River Coal Company Ltd has signed an eighteen-year deal to have its coal trucked to the Greymouth waterside and then shipped to Taranaki for export. At peak in about two years, up to 1.3 million tonnes of coal a year will be trucked 46 kilometres from the mine to the port. Production at Pike River, north of Greymouth, is expected to start in March 2007, and coal shipments will follow a few months later.”
Port of Greymouth manager David Stapleton said the news showed confidence in a port that had suffered years of neglect. “Ten years ago, they didn’t think anybody had any faith that the Port of Greymouth would come back to life, but it has now both turned around and gained credibility with its owners and potential customers”, he said. “Fifteen years ago, the railway from Greymouth town to the port was ripped up, viewed as useless. We didn’t have investment and didn’t have real customer commitment. After thirty years of deterioration of the infrastructure, this will put it back on a good footing again.” Mr. Stapleton said West Coast bar harbours were among the most difficult ports in the world, but could be made to work. Ship designers had analysed eight years of bar readings to come up with the design for two ships to be specially built for the project.
The Pike River Coal Company will pay a NZ$20 million port and wharf upgrade, which will include construction of two new berths, and the port would go from a loss-making enterprise to a port with good profits. “Our port’s been the site of disrepair for a long time. It is falling apart. We were once in a bad way and just about had to close it”, he said.
When the mine was in full production, a truck would deliver coal along the Greymouth waterfront to Mawhera Quay every four minutes for eighteen hours a day. Under the new plan, trucking would reduce considerably at night. A convoy of eleven trucks will be deployed on a continuous circuit from Ikamatua to Greymouth. Heavy trucking through central Greymouth was the price of progress for a district that had been economically backward for forty years. The deal would revitalise the port and open it up to other services, including possible access to container shipping from Taranaki. Once operational, the Pike River mine was expected to provide over one hundred full-time jobs and hundreds of associated jobs, ensuring the region’s growth remained among the highest in New Zealand.
Two berths for colliers will be created in the river, on Richmond Quay, and a third has been allowed for in the Blaketown Lagoon, on Martins Quay, if required. NZ$8 million would be spent on building the new berths, from the tip of the wharf to the old crane from former coal shipping days. The swinging knuckle, which enables ships to turn in the river, is to go right on the tip of the wharf and it will cost NZ$1 million on its own. Coal handling and loading facilities will cost about NZ$7 million and NZ $4 million will be spent on the stockpile area and on dust mitigation.
The two especially-built colliers, each capable of carrying 12,000 tonnes but designed with the Grey River’s shallow bar in mind, will be constructed in China but each is expected to take eighteen months to build and arrive in New Zealand. The mine is expected to begin extraction in early 2007, but coal shipments are not likely to start until some months after that.
The Sea-Tow tug Katea and barge Sea-Tow 61 sailed from Greymouth on 19th November 2005, Sea-Tow’s sixteenth call at Greymouth
Research missions to the Arctic and Antarctic may soon be jeopardised by an under-funded U.S. icebreaker programme that has one of the country’s two heavy icebreakers in drydock and the other badly in need of repair. So said a report to the United States Congress in December 2005. While sufficient icebreaking vessels remain to keep commercial lanes into American ports open throughout the winter, the major concern is supplying research stations near the South Pole and conducting research and rescue missions in both polar regions. Of the three largest icebreakers, the Polar Star is in drydock in Seattle and not expected back to sea for nine to ten months, while the Polar Sea needs repairs and modernising as well. The Coast Guard and National Science Foundation, which inherits the Arctic icebreaker programme under the 2006 budget, do not have the funds to maintain the massive 1970s-built vessels. In the current budget, Congress only appropriated US$48 million of the US$68 million which is estimated is needed to maintain the ships. Newer icebreakers, such as the Healy, commissioned in 2000, can only break 1.4 metres of ice while the Polar class ships can ply through 6.4 metres. In December 2005, the U.S. had to use a chartered Russian icebreaker to help resupply the McMurdo Sound and South Pole research stations in Antarctica, but rising commercial activity in the Arctic is likely to reduce the availability of the Russian ships, the report said.
The Russian icebreaker Krasin (14,058 gross tonnage, built 1976) arrived at Lyttelton on 12th December 2005 from Pusan to take on bunkers and stores. She sailed next day on her way to the ice under charter to the Americans to assist with opening the channel to McMurdo Sound. However, a media report of 19th January 2006 said that the Coast Guard icebreaker Polar Star would sail from its home port of Seattle on 20th January 2006 for Antarctica as requested by the National Science Foundation to provide support to the Russian icebreaker Krasin after the latter vessel had experienced mechanical problems. Polar Star was to proceed directly to McMurdo Station, arriving in approximately thirty days. Polar Star had been on two-day standby inSeattle since the beginning of the southern summer in case it was needed for just such an emergency. Krasinhad opened a channel through the ice into McMurdo Station and then “groomed the channel”, again, whatever that might mean. Although Krasin will most likely complete her mission, the National Science Foundation took the prudent step of calling in Polar Star due to the vulnerability of Krasin to further mechanical difficulty and the short time remaining in the Antarctic summer season.
American Tern arrived at Lyttelton on 14th January 2006 from Port Huname in California to load supplies for the annual resupply trip to the American base at McMurdo and Scott Base for the New Zealand researchers. After bunkering the ship took on cargo before moving to a lay-up berth to await developments with theKrasin’s mechanical problems, which included damage to a propeller. It was decided to despatch American Tern on 18th January once the Krasin had broken the main channel. Krasin was due to return to Lyttelton during February 2006 for assessment of the damage before returning to Russia via Pusan (South Korea). Interestingly, the supply ship had“M/V American Tern” painted-up on her bow and stern as her name, instead of just “American Tern”. She docked at McMurdo on 2nd February 2006 after being escorted through the channel by the Krasin, which was repaired by salvage divers flown in from the U.S.
Russian Icebreaker Krasin in Lyttelton 12 December 2005. Photo: Alan Calvert
American Tern was carrying drilling equipment to be used in the four-nation Andrill project, in which scientists from New Zealand, the U.S., Germany and Italy will gather material to study climate change. Prefabricated accommodation units for use in winter were also on board. However, Scott Base’s thirtysix staff were unaffected by the delay and the Andrill project would start as planned.
Logistics were further hampered by the worst ice conditions experienced in two decades. In 2005 an 11,000-square-kilometre iceberg broke off the Ross Ice Shelf and lodged at the head of the Ross Sea, preventing wind and currents breaking up ice flows in McMurdo Sound. As a result, the sea ice extended 150 kilometres north of McMurdo Sound and hampered the docking of fuel and supply ships. The ice over McMurdo Sound had not eroded from last year, and it had been eight years since it fully retreated.
Waimakariri Sewerage Outfall Project
The landing craft Brandywine sailed from Wellington on 29th October 2005 loaded with construction machinery. She arrived at Lyttelton on 30th October and discharged her cargo at the public slipway. Over the next few months she was used in the laying of a large plastic pipe system for Waimakariri District’s NZ$36.6 million, 1.5 kilometre-long ocean sewerage outfall, just north of the estuary of the Waimakariri River.Brandywine was in drydock at Lyttelton for some repairs on 11th January, and arrived back at Wellington on 23rd January 2006. Also involved with the project was the small tug Kopere (ex-Sea-Tow 24) and the dredgerPelican.
New Navy Ship Launched
The Navy’s biggest and newest ship, a 9,000 tonne multi-role vessel, was launched in Rotterdam on the 12 February 2006. It is the first of seven ships being built for the Navy under the NZ$500 million “Project Protector”. The 131-metre-long ship has taken shape quickly in the Merwede shipyard since the first steel was cut in April 2005. The keel was laid in September 2005 and 74 modules are being built in five different shipyards. A day after the launching, a 950 tonne superstructure section was fitted in one complete block. Once initial fit out and sea trials are completed in late July 2006 the ship will sail to Melbourne for final fit out, which will include the installation of guns and communication systems. It is expected to be handed over to the Defence Ministry in December 2006 then be commissioned into the Navy in January or February 2007. “The project has gone really well, it is on time and budget and there are no issues”, Deputy Defence Secretary Bruce Green said.
The ceremony was a “soft launch” Mr. Green said, with little of the traditional fanfare. Shipyard workers simply let the ropes go and the ship was just assigned a pennant number (L-421). She would be named later.
The Labour Weekend of 22nd to 24th October 2005 marked a special occasion for the city of Nelson. It was the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, when Lord Nelson, on H.M.S. Victory, triumphed over the French fleet on 21st October 1805. There were street fairs, commemoration events, re-enactments and a spectacular fireworks display over Nelson Harbour.
There were ten naval ships, three from Australia, and seven from New Zealand, and it was the first time that Nelson had seen such a large group of naval craft. The Royal Australian Navy sent the Anzac frigate H.M.A.SStuart, and two mine countermeasure ships, Hawkesbury and Yarra.
The New Zealand Navy was represented by the fleet oiler Endeavour, hydrographic ship Resolution and the smaller inshore vessels Kahu, Wakakura, Hinau, Kiwi, and Moa.
The arrival of naval vessels began with Stuart on 17th October, followed by Hawkesbury and Yarra on the morning of 18th October, then Endeavour and Resolution a few hours later. The five smaller vessels arrived in the late afternoon of 20th October and came into the harbour in formation, making a spectacular sight. The crews of the ships cheerfully participated in the many planned events throughout the long weekend. All of the Navy ships sailed from Nelson on 24th October after helping to provide a memorable weekend for all Nelsonians. Also participating was the sail-training ship Spirit of New Zealand.
The former coastal tanker Amokura (18,682 gross tonnage, built 1976) had her name changed from Global Spirit III to Norsea prior to August 2005. Now operated by Atlantic Oil under Panamanian flag, she was operating between Obe Field and Ghana in December 2005.
The former coastal tanker Kotuku (15,215 gross tonnage, built 1975), renamed Bora 1 in 2003, was still operating between Warri and Escravos Terminals (both in Nigeria) in June 2005.
The former coastal tanker Toanui (23,547 gross tonnage, built 1987), renamed Andoas in 2000, was still in service under Panamanian flag by Petroperu between Salaverry and Callao (both in Peru) in January 2006.
We mentioned Bank Line celebrating one hundred years of operations during October 2005 in Vol.53, No.4, when it was noted that the Swire Group had purchased Bank Line from Andrew Weir Shipping in 2003. Latest news is that the former Russian vessels Arunbank, Foylebank, Speybank and Teignbank are to be renamedTikeibank, Gazellbank, Mahinabank and Bloularibank.
New Port Chalmers Container Crane
The Chinese-flag container-crane carrier Zhen Hua 5 (24,156 gross tonnage, built 1976) arrived to anchor outside Otago Harbour on the afternoon of 22nd February 2006 with three ready-erected container cranes highly visible on her decks. One crane, weighing 1,200 tonnes, was for Port Chalmers and the other two slightly arger cranes were bound for Valparaiso, Chile. The unusual ship is a converted bulk carrier and is one of a fleet of similar ships operated by Shangahi Zhen Hua Shipping Co. Ltd. of Shanghai and used to delivery new container cranes built in Shanghai to ports around the world. Their fleet consists of Zhen Hua 1 to Zhen Hua 13, and all thirteen ships are converted bulk carriers or converted tankers of about 60,000 tonnes deadweight. Zhen Hua 5 had sailed from Hong Kong on 27th January 2006 for Otago. Some berth preparation work was required after she berthed alongside on the evening of 25th February and it was 27th February before the new crane was unloaded. Containers filled with water were placed around the wharf area to act as anchor points for two large winches. The ship was ballasted-down until it was level with the wharf and rail tracks were laid between ship and shore. The 65-metre-high NZ$11 million crane was inched ashore on steel rails and on another set of wheels (as the crane wheels lie in line with the wharf), with a computer on board adjusting ballast to compensate for the rise of tide. Large crowds of people gathered at vantage points around the shoreline to watch operations. Once it was ashore and mounted on the fixed shore rails, the crane was moved about one hundred metres north on the wharf so that the ship could safely move out from under the overhanging boom. Once the ship was clear, the new crane was moved about 300 metres south on the wharf, where commissioning work was undertaken for the following five weeks or so. Port Otago’s two twentyseven-year-old container cranes would be used alongside the new crane.
Zhen Hau 5 arrives in Otago Harbour on 25 February 2006 with three container cranes on deck. As is the case with most Chinese ships, the names as painted on the ship run together as one. Photo: I J Farquhar
The new crane was built by Shanghai Zhenhua Port Machinery Co (ZPMC), a world-famous manufacturer of cranes and large steel structures. The company makes products which include quayside container cranes, rubber-tired gantry (RTG) cranes, bulk-material ship loaders and unloaders, bucket wheel stackers and reclaimers, portal cranes, floating cranes, engineering vessels and large steel bridge structures.
To date the company has supplied over eight hundred quayside container cranes, 1,400 RTG’s and numerous non-standard large port machinery. It is a multi-functional company capable of designing, manufacturing, erecting, commissioning and shipping in fully-erected state, after-sales servicing and developing new products.
ZPMC has successfully converted ten bulk cargo ships of about 60,000 tonnes dwt. into specialised vessels for transporting large container cranes and heavy structural pieces. They are the only large crane manufacturer in the world that owns its own vessels for transportation, and this assists them to deliver high quality products at reasonable prices, on schedule, and at short notice. Its products are in use in fortyeight countries and regions, and at over eighty container terminals around the world.
ZPMC recently built a large port machinery production base on the Changxing Island, located at the mouth of the Yangtze River. This base, plus similar building bases at Jiangyin