Compiled by Michael Pryce with the assistance of M. Berthold, A. Calvert, K. Dawson, I. J. Farquhar, D. Gardner, N. Kirby, R.J.McDougall, R. Walker and from the newsletters of the Hawke's Bay and Bay of Plenty Branches of the Society.
New Zealand Container Service Changes
We mentioned in Vol.53, No.4 the major changes planned to take place to container shipping serving New Zealand. These are the most significant changes to affect New Zealand for many decades and have resulted in somewhat bewildering changes to ships and port rotations. Keeping up with the changes is a challenging task, and sometimes very difficult to fully comprehend. Following are the changes as presently understood, and still subject to confirmation, or change!
Maersk Line - New Zealand Services
In mid-November 2005 Maersk Line announced the first details of the New Zealand service “strings” in the future Maersk Line network in Oceania. (Marketing jargon frequently refers to new service “strings” or “loops”, instead of what would previously have been called “service routes”.)
“NZ1 String”:-Tanjung Pelepas (Malaysia), Singapore, Auckland, Napier, Timaru, Port Chalmers, New Plymouth to Tanjung Pelepas. Ships used will be four N class vessels of 2,200 TEU and 746 reefer plugs, Nele Maersk, Nicolai Maersk, Nicoline Maesk and Nora Maersk. Indicative export transit times (in days, from departure from the last New Zealand port) entail Singapore 11, Hong Kong 20, Dalian (Dairen, Northern China) 19, Kaohsiung 15, Dammam (Saudi Arabia) 26, Durban 29, Felixstowe 28, Rotterdam 30 and Bremerhaven 32. Import transit times (to arrival at the first New Zealand call) include Singapore 10, Port Kelang (previously known as Port Swettenham) 11, Shanghai 20, Yantian (near Shenzhen, Southern China) 19, Southampton 36, Rotterdam 31, Bremerhaven 32 and Genoa 33.
“NZ2 String”:-Tanjung Pelepas, Singapore, Brisbane, New Plymouth, Nelson, Auckland, Brisbane (fortnightly) to Tanjung Pelepas.
Ships used will be two P&O Nedlloyd Jakarta type vessels with a nominal capacity of 2,890 TEU and 400 reefer plugs, as well as two N class vessels. Export transit times are expected to be Singapore 12 days, Hong Kong 16, Dalian 22, Kaohsiung 17, Dammam 22, Durban 32, Felixstowe 31, Rotterdam 33 and Bremerhaven 33. Import transit times include Singapore 11 days, Port Kelang 12, Shanghai 19, Yantian 17, Southampton 36, Rotterdam 37, Bremerhaven 39 and Genoa 40.
All seven New Zealand ports called at will consequently receive a weekly service, which means an increased regularity of calls for the currently fortnightly-served Nelson and Port Chalmers.
Hamburg Süd Trident Service
In late November 2005 it was announced that Hamburg Süd was to go solo with its own service between Europe and Australasia via the U.S., rather than joining forces with compatriot Hapag Lloyd.
The new fortnightly service, known as the Trident service, was launched in February 2006. It is operated by six ships: the sisters Cap Victor, ex-Columbus Waikato, Cap Vincent (23,722 gross tonnage, built 1999) and Cap Van Diemen (ex-Uranus, 23,722 gross tonnage, built 1999), Cap Sunion (23,691 gross tonnage, built 1995) and the sisters Cap Saray and Cap Flinders (ex-Cabo Prior), both 25,406 gross tonnage, built 2004. The Trident service will call at Tilbury, Bremerhaven, Antwerp, Philadelphia, Savannah, (Georgia U.S.A.) Cartagena, (Colombia), Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne, Timaru or Port Chalmers, Napier, Tauranga, Cartagena, Savannah, Philadelphia and Tilbury.
In mid-January 2006 Hamburg Süd confirmed that its New Zealand export ports of call for the new service would be Timaru, Napier and Tauranga. They said Tauranga had been selected as an export port over Auckland.
Napier was included due to its position as the “important fruit, meat and central North Island port call” and Timaru was selected as the South Island port due to its “optimum access to export cargo sources and maximum flexibility”.
It is understood neighbouring Port Otago had been a serious contender for the South Island call. With the new Trident service, Hamburg Süd will also be entering trans-Atlantic field between northern Europe and U.S. east coast.
New Hapag Lloyd/CP Ships Joint Services
CP Ships, another of the principal lines on the European trade, is to set up two new services with Hapag Lloyd, one via the Suez Canal and the other through the Panama Canal. French line CMA CGM is to join them, while discussions are under way with other potential partners, to form what will be known as the Tui Group. The trio wants to improve the service that goes through the Panama Canal by increasing frequency from fortnightly to weekly and had hoped Hamburg Süd would participate rather than operate alone. In New Zealand, the new service is to call at Auckland southbound and Tauranga northbound. The integration of Tauranga and ports in New Zealand’s South Island will permit direct and fast connections to the markets in the Caribbean, the U.S. and Europe.
New South East Asia to New Zealand Service
In early December 2005 Malaysia International Shipping Corp. Berhad (MISC), Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL), Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK), Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) and Pacific International Lines (PIL) announced they were co-operating to inaugurate a “two-loop” weekly service from Port Kelang and Singapore to New Zealand. The first sailing was to take place in February or March 2006. Deploying nine vessels of 1,300 to 1,600 TEU would allow them to share space on each others vessels and extend their services to destinations which they do not currently cover, thereby enhancing their role in this region. “Loop 1”, currently operated by MISC and PIL with five vessels on a thirtyfive-day round voyage, will call at Port Kelang, Singapore, Brisbane, Auckland, Napier, Lyttleton, Wellington Nelson (on alternate voyages), Brisbane, Port Kelang. This is mostly in line with the existing MISC/PIL service, using Bunga Teratai, Bunga Teratai 3, Kota Juta, Kota Jati and Kota Jaya.
“Loop 2”, with four vessels, will call at Singapore, Tauranga, Lyttelton, Singapore on a round voyage of twentyeight days.
Australia, New Zealand to East Coast North America, Europe and Return
Maersk Line’s new weekly so-called Oceania Pendulum will employ eleven 4,100 TEU ships, including the seven Albatross class formerly chartered by P&O Nedlloyd and CP Ships’ three former Eastabout fleetmates. The Albatrosses became Maersk Decatur, (ex-Maersk Dacartur, ex-P&O Nedlloyd Encounter), Maersk Dominca (ex-Sydney Express, ex-P&O Nedlloyd Pegasus), Maersk Denia (ex-P&O Nedlloyd Remuera), Maersk Duffield (ex-Columbus New Zealand), Maersk Dunafare (ex-P&O Nedlloyd Botany), Maersk Denton (ex-P&O Nedlloyd Mairangi) and Maersk Damascus (ex-P&O Nedlloyd Palliser). The CP/Contship vessels are Maersk Dayton (ex- CP Borealis), Maersk Dale (ex- CP Australis) and Maersk Dexter (ex-CP Aurora). The eleventh ship is Maersk Duncan (40,010 gross tonnage, built 2005, ex-P&O Nedlloyd Cathargo). CP Ships will have 300 slots per sailing, including 150 reefer plugs.
On the rival CMA CGM-Marfret/CP Ships-Hapag Lloyd Panama “loop” (fortnightly at the outset) the present ANZ Alliance Westabout 2,200 TEU sisters CMA CGM La Tour, CMA CGM Manet, CMA CGM Matisse and Marfret Provence will be joined by the 2,024 TEU CP Eagle and the 2,080 TEU CP Dynasty, originally the Contship “Eagle” service’s Contship Sydney.
The CMA CGM-Marfret/CP Ships-Hapag Lloyd Australia, New Zealand to Europe Suez “loop” (known as the New Alliance Suez pendulum) has an interesting line-up of twelve vessels. Current ANZ Alliance Westabout ships transferring to this “loop” are CP Rangitoto (25,369 gross tonnage, built 1998) and the sisters CP Rome, CP London (26,131 gross tonnage, built 1997) and CMA CGM Utrillo (25,777 gross tonnage, built 1999). Others are Wellington Express (23,652 gross tonnage, built 2000, ex-CP Tabasco, ex-TMM Tabasco, ex-Silvia), Fremantle Express (23,560 gross tonnage, built 1995, ex-CP Voyager, ex-Contship Melbourne), Adelaide Express (23,897 gross tonnage, built 1998, ex-Classica, etc.), Canberra Express (23,652 gross tonnage, built 2000, ex-CP Eagle, etc.)
In the Tasman, where Maersk can no longer directly partner ANL as a result of undertakings given to Australian regulatory authorities, ANL and MSC have a new vessel-sharing agreement, involving ANL Yarrunga (9,966 gross tonnage, built 2005), MSC Immacolata (17,304 gross tonnage, built 1979) and MSC Sariska (13,276 gross tonnage, built 1970). Consequently Maersk now exchange slots with MSC (compared to the previous set-up of ANL and PONL in a vessel-sharing agreement with ANL and MSC exchanging slots) and operates CEC Star (ex-P&O Nedlloyd Wellington) on the run. ANL Container Line, CMA CGM's Australian subsidiary, has upgraded its so-called Tranztas Australia-New Zealand service to a weekly frequency.
ANL Yarrunga and CEC Star operate between Sydney, Melbourne, Port Chalmers, Lyttelton, Wellington, Nelson and Sydney. However, the charter of CEC Star was due to end in June 2006. The two larger ships, MSC Immacolata and MSC Sariska, operate on a Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland, Tauranga, Sydney rotation. A replacement ship for MSC Paola (20,295 gross tonnage, built 1978) on MSC’s Capricorn service from June 2006 is MSC Wellington (16,868 gross tonnage, built 1981). She is the much-renamed Barbarossa, ex-Nuova Australia in 1998, ex-Zura Bhum in 1996, ex-Barbarossa in 1994, ex-Alum Bay in 1994, ex- Sea Progress in 1992, ex-Hoechst Express in 1991, ex-JSS Britannia in 1998, ex- JSS Los Angeles 1 in 1986, ex-JSS Los Angeles in1986, ex-Barbarossa in 1986, ex-Ibn Al-Akfani in 1983, launched as Barbarossa, all this time owned by Martime Schiffahrts, Elsfleth, Germany.
CP Ships continues the fortnightly CP Rotoiti roll on, roll off service and exchanges slots with Maersk. However, CP Rotoiti was renamed back to just plain, unadorned, prefix less Rotoiti (22,228 gross tonnage, built 1977) in March 2006, and exchanged her new CP funnel markings for those of Hapag Lloyd.
CP Ships Name to Go by Late 2007
Tui has confirmed it will abandon the CP Ships brand name, probably by the end of 2007 on completion of the latter’s integration with Hapag Lloyd Container Line. “We have made it clear that our container shipping business will be operated under only one brand name”, Hapag Lloyd’s press officer Klaus Heims told the shipping magazine “Fairplay”. But the group is in no rush to act at the moment as it wants to give CP Ships time to complete its own brand-consolidation which it launched prior to the first moves in the proposed US2.3 billion takeover by Tui (see above). The decision mirrors a wider trend in the liner shipping industry. Carriers are generally turning away from the use of multiple brands, which they were employing to further their regional image and increase their overall market share. AP Møller-Mærsk will delete both the P&O Nedlloyd and Sealand names from its ships and equipment from February 2007, while Chilean carrier CSAV is rumoured to see no need to continue using the Asian brand Norasia.
What’s in a Name?
Further to the above, it might seem something of a fashion statement, but multiple brands in the liner trades are very definitely passé. That might seem harsh for all those folk who have been selling hard for CP Ships and its numerous brands picked up along its acquisitive trail, but is the way of the world. A year hence and Tui’s Hapag Lloyd will, perhaps not surprisingly, become the dominant brand.
It is not surprising and not particularly new. Look back thirty years or so to when the dreaded McKinsey “reorganised” P&O, the process consigning to the garbage heap some of the best-known names in British shipping. The consultants judged that while the loyalties of the employees might be strained by the rebranding, the customers were the people who really mattered and that they would have no trouble in identifying with a stronger label, whatever that might mean!. (For those who may have forgotten what happened back in 1971, a total reorganisation of the P&O Group was masterminded by management consultants McKinsey & Co. This resulted in many well-known Conference Lines shipping companies all being merged into P&O’s General Cargo Division. Many would hold the opinion that the rot has never stopped since!).
Hapag Lloyd Starts Renaming CP Ships Fleet
On 19th January 2006 CP Dynasty became the first of seventynine container ships to be renamed by Hapag Lloyd following its takeover of CP Ships in 2005 by being renamed Sydney Express (23,540 gross tonnage, built 1994). Others that quickly followed were CP Tabasco, renamed Wellington Express (23,652 gross tonnage, built 2001), and CP Denali, renamed Washington Express. All three vessels remained under the British flag after renaming.
The renaming covers ten 4,250 TEU “box” ships, which include nine new ships, that were taken on long-term charter by CP Ships. They include the Hong Kong-flagged CP Kanha, (39,941 gross tonnage, built 2005) which was delivered in October 2005 and will be renamed New Delhi Express. The nine new ships, which will be delivered over the next two years, all 39,941 gross tonnage, including the previously intended CP Jasper, to become Saigon Express , intended Tongariro, to be Santos Express, intended Fuji, to be Rio Grande Express, and intended Lushan, to be Rio de Janeiro Express.
Sources said all the existing ship registrations, which include ports in Britain, the Isle of Man, Bermuda, Germany, Antigua and Liberia, will be retained. “But even without reflagging the vessels the renaming will still be an expensive exercise”, one source said. Those in a position to know said the renaming process is expected to be completed by the middle of 2006 and is part of plan to consign the CP Ships name and that of its subsidiaries to history. Lykes Motivator was renamed Livorno Express (37,474 gross tonnage, built 1991) while twentythree other vessels will have the CP, Lykes, CAST and TMM prefix dropped. This means that vessels such as CP Pathfinder will be renamed Pathfinder. As already mentioned, CP Rotoiti has reverted to Rotoiti.
One source said: “Hapag Lloyd is erasing all links between these ships and their previous operators. It is part of what appears to be a plan to eradicate the CP’s name and those of its subsidiaries.” He believed Hapag Lloyd paid little attention to retaining any customer loyalty there might have been for the subsidiary companies.
“The only customer loyalty there might have been was to Canada Maritime in North America and TMM in Mexico, but Hapag Lloyd ignored it and has gone ahead and wiped them out”, he added.
Container Ship Renamings
All the above renaming work kept the signwriters, both ashore and afloat, busy for months. In previous times, the renaming of a ship was a relatively rare event, and generally of interest. Sadly, the modern practice of frequently renaming chartered container ships, sometimes several times in a year, (see MSC Wellington above) has resulted in a significant loss of interest, and almost a “whole cares?” attitude.
Hamburg Sud Buys Fesco Cross-Trades
Further consolidation came with an announcement in March 2006 that Germany’s Hamburg Sud had acquired the cross-trade activities of Russia’s Far Eastern Shipping Co. The change was effective from May 2006 and will involve at least three major services, Fesco Australia Line between Asia and Australia, Fesco New Zealand Express Line, between Asia and New Zealand, and Fesco Australia North America Line, between Australia, New Zealand and West Coast North America. In all three, Hamburg Sud and Fesco are already operating partners, while Hyundai Merchant Marine also participates in FAL, and FANAL is part of the Oceania vessel sharing agreement that also includes CP Ships/Hapag Lloyd and Maersk. Fesco has a tonnage replacement programme under way for all three services, with a series of 1,080 TEU ships under construction at the Chinese shipbuilders Jinling, 1,728 TEU ships and 2,741 TEU ships at the Polish yard of Stocznia Nowa Szczecinska, and three 2,742 TEU re-sales from German owners. The Russian Government’s remaining twenty per cent stake in Fesco was recently purchased by the company’s largest shareholder, Industrial Investors (Prominvestory) for a reported US$140 million.
Significant changes can be expected in major Australian and New Zealand services as a consequence of Hamburg Sud’s acquisition of Fesco’s cross-trades, industry observers believe. Attention is focused on the “twin-string” Oceania service between Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands and the West Coast of North America, where the Hamburg Sud/Fesco combination will hold market leadership, ahead of CP Ships/Hapag Lloyd and Maersk (incorporating P&O Nedlloyd).
The takeover resulted in a sudden decision to reverse a planned renaming of CP Ships’ four vessels with Hapag Lloyd names. Only CP Condor was renamed Melbourne Express, whereas CP Tui (intended Perth Express), CP Kestrel (intended Auckland Express) and CP Jabiru (intended Brisbane Express) reverted to owners’ names of Albert Rickmers, Hansa Sonderburg, and Hansa Rendsburg respectively, all 18,335 gross tonnage, built 2000.
Falling Profits Wipe Billions off AP Moller-Maersk Value
Lloyd’s List on 29th March 2006 reported that billions of dollars were wiped from the value of AP Moller-Maersk after the Danish shipping and oil giant reported a fall in last year’s profits, partly due to a loss on the acquisition of rival container ship operator P&O Nedlloyd. The news, coupled with a warning that a further profit decline can be expected this year, sent its shares skidding. They closed at DKr51,500, down DKr7,400, or more than twelve per cent, valuing the group at about US$34 billion. Moller-Maersk’s net income fell to DKr20.2 billion (US$3.38 billion) from DKr28.2 billion n in 2004, although sales climbed thirtyone per cent to DKr208.7 billion. Worse is to come in the current year, with profit expected to be “in the order of ten to fifteen per cent lower” than in 2005. The statement was gloomier than analysts expected, even though some had downgraded their forecasts in the run-up to publications of the results.
Moller-Maersk said last year’s result was hit by accounting losses in two acquisitions, including P&O Nedlloyd, as well as by high expenses relating to the integration of the container line acquisition. Stripping out integration expenses, the results of companies acquired during the year as well as discontinued operations lifted the group’s profit to DKr24.29 billion after tax, but before special items, of DKr21.21 billion. Profit from container shipping and related activities fell to DKr7.65 billion from DKr9.1 billion. Moller-Maersk said rates were on average above those for 2004, but partially neutralised by increased costs, especially fuel and chartered tonnage. However, the division’s result excluding P&O Nedlloyd was “somewhat above that for 2004”. The contribution from P&O Nedlloyd, acquired on 11th August 2005, was negative after taking into account integration costs and depreciation and write-downs based on Moller-Maersk’s accounting policies. Operationally, its result was “as expected”. Moller-Maersk said the total direct costs relating to integration of P&O Nedlloyd were still estimated to be about US$500 million before tax, of which US$298 million had been absorbed in 2005. On the current year, Moller-Maersk said container rates had experienced a “considerable decline.” For the whole of 2006, a result “considerably below” last year was expected, both before and after P&O Nedlloyd integration expenses, which were expected to be DKr .1 billion.
The group’s result was also hit by a US$500 million write-down of the UK North Sea oil and gas interests purchased from Kerr-McGee. The after-tax effect was US$300 million. Moller-Maersk said that a review of the acquisition had shown that lower net income than expected appeared probable.
Strait Shipping’s new acquisition for the Cook Strait service, Monte Stello (11,630 gross tonnage, built 1979), arrived at Auckland on the morning of 11th March 2006 from Papeete. She had received a provisional certificate of registry at Wellington on 13th January 2006 before she sailed from Las Palmas. She went into the commercial drydock at Devonport on 14th March after the Fijian ferry Suilven (formerly of Strait Shipping) vacated it. Monte Stello left the drydock on 25th March repainted in “Bluebridge” colours and markings and lay alongside the Boiler Wharf whilst conversion work on the new lounge area continued, and engine maintenance work was carried out. It was earlier hoped that she would sail from Auckland and arrive in Wellington in time to be in commercial service for Easter. However, her engines needed more maintenance work done on them than originally anticipated and her schedule dropped back further. She underwent engine trials in Auckland and the Hauraki Gulf on 1st June 2006 but needed to return to Auckland for more work.
Monte Stello is 126.52 metres length overall and 21.01 metres beam, so is 10 metres shorter and 1.55 metres narrower than her “sister ship” Santa Regina. Other differences are that Monte Stello does not have a bulbous bow whilst Santa Regina does, Monte Stello’s funnel is on her port side whilst Santa Regina’s larger funnel is on her starboard side. Monte Stello has a single large stern ramp whilst Santa Regina has a smaller stern ramp on the port side of her main stern ramp. Monte Stello is registered at Wellington in the ownership of Monte Stello Ltd. On eventually entering service she was to take up the freight-only ferry Kent’s schedule, sailing from Wellington at 8a.m. and 8p.m., carrying passengers on the 8a.m. sailing only.
The freight ferry Purbeck (6,507 gross tonnage, built 1978) was purchased by Toll NZ Consolidated Ltd. and paperwork for change of ownership was completed on 8th March 2006. She retains her Wellington port of registry that she had acquired whilst on charter. Purbeck was immediately advertised worldwide as for sale. It is understood that it was cheaper to purchase the ferry at the conclusion of her charter than pay various “off-hire” costs. The twentyeight-year-old ferry was laid up at Wellington on 31st October 2005; she apparently attracted little interest from buyers, and was still laid up in June 2006.
An unusual event was to be seen on 15th March 2006 when Toll Shipping’s Interislander Line ferry Challenger left the RFT3 berth at Wellington, turned around, then came back in stern-first early in the evening. This was to allow some repair work to be done on the stern ramp. On completion, she repeated the process and re-berthed bow-in as usual to load freight for Picton.
Further delays were experienced in completing the passenger facilities at the new berth, with the new passenger escalator system ready by Easter, but the passenger gangway system not operational until early May 2006. When the new system was ready, it was shown to provide much improved arrangements for passengers for boarding and disembarking. A covered walkway leads from the seaward side of the departure terminal and across the RFT2 railway line via an interesting “drawbridge” system. This allows passengers to then walk southwards down RFT3 inside a further covered walkway, two escalator systems and a boarding gangway to the Deck 7 passenger level on Challenger. This permits much quicker boarding and disembarkation times for passengers, and avoids crowded passenger lifts up from the car deck, or crowded interior stairways. One disadvantage would be that passengers could not use this full system (with the “drawbridge” down) if another rail ferry was loading rail freight at RFT2 at the same time, but this does not happen as schedules are at present.
During the quieter “off season”, some of the passenger seating areas are roped-off to avoid their use, and this no doubt assists in keeping the interior clean if a smaller with a smaller number of passengers confined to selected areas.
After Challenger berthed at Wellington from Picton on the evening of 16th May 2006, it was discovered that a large and heavy fishing net had been picked-up on her bulbous bow whilst crossing Cook Strait. Weighing about eight tonnes and about forty metres long, it was draped across her bow, and the longer end had fouled her bow thruster on her starboard bow. Divers cleared the bow thruster and the Wellington Harbourmaster arranged for a crane to remove the net from the harbour for disposal.
On page 38 of Vol.54, No.1, we published an article about the coaster Lissa, owned by Alpha Zee Ltd., whose principal is Mr. Chris Packer. On 2nd May 2006 a media article said that “Sailor Chris Packer, a friend of murdered New Zealand yachting legend Sir Peter Blake and winner of top races on both sides of the Tasman, was reported to be fighting for his life after a heart attack.”
The 53-year-old is said to have suffered a heart attack while playing golf a week earlier and was in a coma. Born in Cape Town, Mr. Packer was educated in Perth and came to New Zealand in 1983. During the 1980s and 90s he owned and raced the 16-metre Starlight Express, one of New Zealand’s most celebrated ocean racers. He also turned his firm Southern Spars into the world’s biggest mast maker. The “Sunday Times” in Fremantle on 7th May reported that he was out of a coma and showing signs of recovery after his heart attack two weeks earlier.
In November 2004 he had been arrested in Bali on Lissa and charged with firearms offences after not declaring pistols normally carried aboard for defensive reasons. He spent three months in Bali’s Kerobokan prison before being charged, convicted, and ultimately released in February 2005.
The Maritime Heritage Trust of Wellington took over ownership of the floating steam crane Hikitia (694 gross tonnage, built 1926) from Hikitia Heavy Lift Ltd. from 16th March 2006. The vessel remains berthed at Taranaki Street Wharf in Wellington. Since 1990 she had been operated by Hikitia Heavy Lift Ltd., owned by couples Bob and Mary Box, and John and Joy Ackrill, assisted by their group of dedicated volunteers and supporters.
Reef Shipping was granted a one-year exclusive licence to operate the first international shipping service to the Kingdom of Tonga’s Ha’apai Group of islands. Planned to start on 3rd April 2006, the new call is being added to the schedule of Southern Tiare (1,185 gross tonnage, built 1988), which will now sail from Auckland to Niue, Ha’apai and back to Auckland every twentyeight days. Reef Shipping said the vessel would still maintain its previous frequency despite including the ninetysix-mile diversion to Ha’apai, which is located about midway between Tonga’s Va’vau Group and Tongatapu Group of islands.
We chronicled the past history of Townsend Cromwell (563 gross tonnage, built 1963) in Vol.53, No.3, and concluded our account with her arrival at Dunedin on 2nd August 2005 after she had been purchase by Dunedin businessman Michael Swan. During January 2006 she was berthed at the Birch Street Wharf having paint stripped from her hull prior to repainting. The 49.7-metre former scientific research vessel was scheduled to sail from Dunedin in March 2006 to Nelson for slipping, and then she was intended to go to Fiji for use as a private holiday vessel, but with no intention to use her as a charter vessel. She was to be registered in some port overseas from Fiji. On 24th June 2006 she arrived at Lyttelton from Dunedin for a brief drydocking for repairs to her variable-pitch propeller, then sailed back to Dunedin a few days later.
A media article in early February 2006 said that anyone wanting warship memorabilia is about to be given a chance of acquiring their choice of hundreds of thousands of bits and pieces. The Navy has a warehouse full of spare parts for Leander class frigates, but it has no more operational ships in the class and wants to be rid of the parts. The last Leander ship, the former H.M.N.Z.S. Canterbury, was taken out of commission in March 2005. As we have reported, her sister ship, the former H.M.N.Z.S. Wellington, was sunk at Island Bay, Wellington in November 2005 as a dive attraction and artificial reef.
Canterbury is still lying at the Devonport naval base in Auckland awaiting a decision by the Defence Minister about her future. Her scrap metal value is diminishing, as China is expected to produce a 100 million-tonne surplus of steel by the end of this year. A year ago, Canterbury would have had a scrap value of at least NZ$250,000 but today that figure would be a lot less, said Commander David Proctor, who is in charge of getting rid of the parts and the old ship. The Canterbury could end up as a dive attraction as well.
The Royal N.Z. Navy Museum has been through the warehouse and taken anything worthy of inclusion in its collection. A British clearing house that specialises in parts for old Leander class frigates was interested in selling the accumulation on behalf of the Navy but that option was not considered, Commander Proctor said. “We don’t want to hold it. We want it gone.”
The parts are likely to be offered for sale by tender within the next few weeks, and the Navy wants them to go as one lot. They include pump casings, fuses, door handles, rubber hoses and anything ever likely to be needed on a complex ship such as the frigates were. Some of the parts were new and still in their protective packing after being delivered more than forty years ago but most parts had scrap value only, rather than any intrinsic or commercial value, Commander Proctor said.
The Navy said last year several groups were interested in sinking Canterbury, including the trust which sank Waikato at Tutukaka, and another which had talked of sinking the ship at Omaha, about an hour north of Auckland. Other possible sinking sites included the Coromandel Peninsula and a site near Gisborne. If Canterbury is sunk, it will not be with its main gun. The twin 4.5-inch main turret was removed and will go to the new naval museum in Auckland.
“Alyssa M. II”
An article in the “Nelson Morning Mail” of 4th January 2006 gave some more news of the former British Navy survey ship now lying in Nelson. “Potential buyers are showing interest in a partly completed luxury boat in Nelson, for sale for NZ$2.9 million after being damaged by fire.”
The former British Navy Survey Ship H.M.S. Bulldog has been berthed at the wharf at Sealord’s Vickerman Street processing plant for the past twentyone months since fire ripped through her in April 2004 while she was undergoing major refit to equip her as a luxury yacht, which began in 2002. A welder or gas cutter was thought to be responsible for the fire on the sixtyone-metre steel-hulled ship, which is owned by Hong Kong businessman Wing-cheung Fung, and it was intended to replace another luxury craft owned by him, the thirtysix-metre Alyssa M. Ship manager Rocka Romcke, owner of Nelson Yacht Services, said insurance after the fire had been settled and notice of the ship’s sale had attracted interested parties. He would not give the value of the insurance payout. After the fire the owner lost interest in converting Alyssa M. II, and cancelled the refit.
Website Yachtworld.com shows she is for sale for NZ$2,909,937. It says the crew's quarters are eightyfive per cent complete while the guest areas are bare steel. Mr. Fung also put the Alyssa M., which was in Nelson for eighteen months as a base for crew during the refit of Alyssa M. II, on the market. Mr. Romcke, who skippered the Alyssa M., flew to Hong Kong in mid-January 2006 to hand over the ship to its new owner, a Norwegian businessman, after a sale had been settled. Mr. Fung still had a twentyseven-metre classic boat in Hong Kong, Mr. Romcke said”. Alyssa M. II was still laid up at Nelson at the end of June 2006.
Bangladesh Has Sixty Per Cent of Shipbreaking Market
In January 2006 it was reported that Bangladesh had become the world’s leading shipbreaker, leaping over India, China and Pakistan. In 2005, its share of the market had gone up to around sixty per cent with the share of China and Pakistan taking a plunge. India, once the largest demolition market, is a distant second. Industry officials said Bangladesh’s increasing appetite for cheap steel, and the cut-throat competition from primary steel producers in India that led to stronger demand in the local market, are the primary reasons.
The ships for scrapping in Bangladesh attract the highest price at US$340-360 per tonne as against US$310-320 per tonne in India. The campaigns in India by green activists over poor working conditions in yards have also affected breaking at Alang in Gujarat province, the centre of shipbreaking in India. Breakers in Alang said yards are struggling to survive, with fewer and smaller ships coming for demolition. Between April and December 2005, only seventythree ships beached for demolition at Alang-Sosiya yards, as compared to three hundred ships in 2002-03, which were also on the average much bigger in size.
F69 – “Wellington”
In Vol.53, Nos. 3 & 4, we detailed the preparation for and the scuttling of the former frigate H.M.N.Z.S. Wellington as a dive site off Island Bay, on Wellington’s south coast, which occurred on 14th November 2005. A southerly storm and resultant heavy swell affected the Wellington region on 3rd and 4th March 2006, and on 5th March reports were received of wood and cork debris washing ashore on the south coast, raising suspicions that this had originated from the scuttled frigate. A dive inspection after the weather had moderated on 8th March found that the hulk had broken in two, but another dive inspection in better conditions on 13th March revealed that the hulk was actually in three pieces. The bow section was in its original position, but lying on its starboard side, still held by an anchor and cable laid when she was scuttled. The ship had broken cleanly aft of the gun turret, and the stern section had been pounded by the bad weather, slewed through ninety degrees, moved bodily shoreward until jammed against a rising bank, and broken in two again, thereby making three pieces. Extreme weather conditions had torn the bottom and lower decks out of the ship and collapsed the upper decks downwards, leaving a jumbled mess of the stern sections that made diving inside them impossible.
New Royal New Zealand Navy Ship Names
The names of the seven new naval vessels to enter service over the next two years were announced by Defence Minister Phil Goff on 31st March 2006. “The Government has decided to follow naval tradition in naming the ships after earlier vessels that have served in the Royal New Zealand Navy”, he said. “The four Inshore Patrol ships will carry the lake names Taupo, Rotoiti, Pukaki, and Hawea, which were the names of New Zealand’s Loch class frigates that fought in the Korean War between 1951 and 1953. “This is appropriate in the Year of the Veteran, honouring the ships and crews that served New Zealand. Their names were also used for the patrol craft that carried out resource protection in our waters in the 1970s and 1980s. Each ship will therefore carry the honours board of its predecessor, and the heritage so represented. The two patrol vessels and the multi role vessel (MRV) will carry the names of provincial areas with which they will be affiliated. They will follow in the tradition of the Leander Class frigates that served between 1966 and 2005. The MRV will be named Canterbury and the offshore patrol ships will be Otago and Wellington. All seven ships will have regional affiliations, with Taupo associated with Northland, Rotoiti with Hawke’s Bay, Pukaki with Nelson/Marlborough, and Hawea with Westland. Otago will also be associated with Southland.”
The MRV is nearing completion in Rotterdam, while the two offshore vessels are being built in Melbourne, and the four inshore craft in Whangarei.
“All seven ships being built under the NZ$500 million Project Protector are due to be commissioned by the Navy over the next two years”, Mr. Goff said. “Canterbury is scheduled to be the first to begin service, in January 2007, while the fourth and final inshore patrol vessel should start in early 2008. The MRV gives the Navy the new capabilities of military sealift and amphibious operation. “All seven Project Protector ships will make an important contribution to the security and economic interests of New Zealand, as well as increasing our capacity to assist in disaster relief in the Pacific. “They will be operated by the Navy but will also undertake work for a range of government agencies responsible for protecting New Zealand's borders and our Exclusive Economic Zone”, Mr. Goff said.
Chief of Navy, Rear-Admiral David Ledson, said the ship names continued a long-standing Navy tradition. “These are names that the Navy is very happy with and I’m sure the many former sailors who served in the original ships will feel exactly the same.” The regional affiliations continue current naval practice, which allows ships to develop a close relationship with their “home port”. The chosen regions ensure a geographical balance of the associations of the Navy’s fleet throughout New Zealand. “The four lake names also maintain a geographical balance, with Taupo and Rotoiti in the North Island, and Hawea and Pukaki in the South,” he said.
Taranaki Offshore News
Early 2006 saw much offshore activity at Port Taranaki. On 1st March 2006 the German heavy-load ship Annegret (8,397 gross tonnage, built 2000) arrived with the Pohokura gas-field jacket on board, and then waited in port to discharge piles and conductors for the new drilling rig Ensco 56 before loading the 180-tonne topsides, which had been built by Fitzroy Engineering, New Plymouth.
On 2nd March 2006 the heavy-lift ship Swan (22,788 gross tonnage, built 1988) anchored off Port Taranaki for about six hours as crew cleared Customs, at the end of a voyage from Singapore to deliver the jack-up drilling rig Ensco 56 for the Pohokura offshore gas field project.
Later that afternoon she sailed for the sheltered waters of Admiralty Bay, in the Marlborough Sounds. There Swan submerged her deck by filling a number of ballast tanks, which allowed the drilling rig be floated off. Two tugs, Pacific Runner and Tuakana, then towed Ensco 56 to its drilling site thirteen kilometres off the coast at Motunui.
Annegret was then moored on a pre-laid six- point mooring system alongside Ensco 56 and the rig lifted the jacket from Annegret and lowered it to the seabed, drove the piles and conductors and installed the topsides.
The term “jack-up rig” perfectly explains how the structure positioned itself offshore. It has three 130-metre legs that were jacked-down on to the seabed, with the drilling platform above the surface. Ensco-56 is capable of sitting in 91 metres of water, far deeper than the 35-metre depths that will be encountered off Motunui. Cranes aboard the Ensco 56 will be used to position an offshore production platform into place at Pohokura, and the rig will then drill six production wells in an operation that is expected to last several months.
Swan is a member of a fleet of heavy-lift ships owned by Dutch firm Dockwise, which carry everything from drilling rigs to large yachts and even other ships. Swan was the ship that carried the naval vessel H.M.S. Nottingham back to the United Kingdom for repairs after it went aground near Lord Howe Island in 2002.
The Chinese-built heavy-lift ship Transporter (6,714 gross tonnage, built 1999), from Portland, Dorset, arrived at Wellington on 8th April 2006 and laid up at Inter-Island Wharf. She is of 100.7 metres length overall and is fitted with two 275-tonne-capacity cranes. She had on board approximately fifteen huge reels (each weighs about 250 tonnes) of flexible gas pipeline for the development of the offshore Pohokura gas field. She was waiting for the delayed arrival of specialised dive-support/pipelayer Rockwater 2. Transporter sailed from Wellington for New Plymouth on 22nd April.
McManaway Tug & Barge Limited continue to trade to Castlecliff, Whanganui River. The tug Nautilus III and steel barge Harvest Star arrived in the Whanganui River on 17th March 2006 with a load of 500 tonnes of dolomite from Tarakohe, Golden Bay.
After discharge, she loaded 208 tonnes of tanalised pine poles together with a Komatsu D37.5 bulldozer, and sailed for Tarakohe later the same day.
On 12th April the Korean fishing vessel No. 11 Green arrived at Castlecliff on the morning tide. She had come into port in order to have local contractors carry out electrical and pipework repairs, and was expected to be in port for about a week. The tug Nautilus III and steel barge Harvest Star arrived back at Castlecliff on 20th April with another load of dolomite, to find their berth still occupied by No. 11 Green, which had to leave and anchor in the roadstead. After discharging the dolomite, the barge again loaded tanalised pine poles for Tarakohe.
Whanganui River Boat Renaissance (by Martin Berthold).
After a little over eighteen years since Wairua was recovered from the Whanganui River (on 23rd October 1987), this little riverboat has been faithfully fully restored to ply the very same river it was originally launched into in 1904 – re-launched again, in the twentyfirst century. The tunnel hull, complete with 6LW20 Gardner diesel engine that “swings” a twentyeight inch propeller, was sent down into the waters of the Whanganui River from near the motorboat club and launching ramp (Anzac Parade) at near flood tide on 3rd March 2006.
Resplendent in the livery once synonymous with the entrepreneurial riverboat proprietor Alexander Hatrick (Whanganui) that is a mirror-image of the larger paddle-steamer Waimarie, Wairua is also sporting a very decorative manila rope bow fender, somewhat reminiscent of those of the Wellington steam tugs Taioma and Tapuhi, obviously more diminutive in scale but reflecting a noteworthy competence by the maker, Mark Campbell.
Two cranes in attendance lowered Wairua into the river waters against the grassy bank, to the background of a blessing by eminent Maori Manu Mete-Kingi supported by the playing of a lone piper. Helm and steering chains were coupled, and pedestal engine telegraphs and funnel were expeditiously bolted to the deck. With a splutter that evolved into a throaty consistent purr, typical of Gardner marine diesels, eliciting a spontaneous applause from the many onlookers, Wairua without further fanfare glided away from the river bank for an impromptu trial run upriver beyond the Aramoho railway bridge soon turning back down river.
As Wairua romped past the assembled spectators and well-wishers on the river bank it was obvious the river boat’s engine was more than up to its work. Wairua, with “a bone in her teeth”, sporadically releasing a jet of blue smoke from her engine exhaust pipe encased in the freshly-painted red and black-topped funnel, met her bigger consort, the Waimarie, paddling upriver toward the Dublin Street bridge on her regular scheduled afternoon excursion. Fittingly, as the two vessels closed, the paddle steamer slowed, her Master, attired in formal white peaked cap and incongruous shorts, tugging on the wire to blow her whistle, causing plumes of white steam to issue skyward, to the response of Wairua’s air horn and reciprocal waving from persons aboard both craft.
Wairua continued down river at speed, turning hard to starboard and rolling violently, her complement on the upper deck clearly bracing themselves, as she crossed her own wash to come up to her floating pontoon, a permanent berth, adjacent to Moutoa Gardens, located just a little above where she had lain in the mud for near thirtyfour years before being salvaged. This is just upriver from the paddle steamer Waimarie’s berth.
It is intended to fit the upperworks and complete the fitting-out of Wairua at this berth. Incorporated in the restoration of Wairua are three brass porthole rims recovered from another well-known Whanganui wooden vessel, the fishing boat Imogene, built at Port Underwood as the Arawa by Joe Flood in 1907 and initially operated by Jacky Harvey in the Marlborough Sounds as a mail launch.
Imogene, powered by both engine and auxiliary sail, fished out of Whanganui for over forty years and is well remembered by an older generation for her record fish catches landed. Being of suitable scale for inclusion in Wairua’s restoration, the porthole rims were recovered in January 2001 from Imogene, which had been used as a workboat in the early 1980s, later sinking near Berthold’s Landing in the Makowhai Creek, Manawatu District.
Wairua is privately owned by Mark Campbell, Kevin Clark, David McDermid and Ian McMurray. For those statistically inclined, she is 19.8 metres (65 feet) in length, 2.4 metres (8 feet) in breadth, 3 feet moulded depth amidships. David McDermid, spokesman for the Wairua’s owners, is hopeful their historic riverboat will complement the Whanganui Riverboat Restoration and Navigation Trust Incorporated’s larger paddle steamer Waimarie (see above), especially during the quieter winter months when it is not always economic to steam the latter with the reduced passenger numbers that present at that time of year.
It is envisaged Wairua will make regular excursions to Hipango Park and further, offering to the genuine riverboat enthusiast, extraordinary charter trips to Koroniti when a fresh is running in the Whanganui River, affording the opportunity for those aboard to experience the challenge of negotiating a rapid or two – steaming uphill! It is hoped to enhance the experience with a night stopover at a Maori marae to give travellers some real cultural insight into the river environment especially from a time when it was proclaimed: “The Wanganui River – New Zealand’s Rhine!”, as advertised in a A. Hatrick Tourist Steamer Co., promotion early last century.
“Forum Fiji III”
At the end of February 2006 it was announced that a 9,370-tonnes deadweight and 350-TEU-capacity multipurpose container and reefer vessel had been chartered for the New Zealand-South Pacific service by Pacific Forum Line (PFL). The 126-metre Forum Fiji III (7,662 gross tonnage, built 1995, ex-Satzach in 2006, ex-Ever Amply in 2000) has a speed of 14.5 knots and is equipped with two 40-tonne cranes. Owned by Osterreichischer Lloyd/Krohn, she retained her Austrian flag, registered at Wien. She replaced the smaller 250-TEU-capacity Forum Fiji II (5,025 gross tonnage, built 1999, ex-Ratstor in 2003) on the three-vessel service (with Forum Pacific and Southern Express). Forum Fiji II reverted to her original name of Ratstor and returned to European waters. Forum Fiji III is chartered under 12-monthly options and PFL said her extra capacity and speed would prove beneficial.
PFL’s New Zealand-South Pacific service operates a 21-day rotation of Auckland, Lyttelton, Napier, Lautoka, Suva, Apia, Pago-Pago, Nukuolofa, Auckland.
“Aratere” Storm Damage in Cook Strait
On the afternoon of 3rd March 2006, a storm-force southerly affected Cook Strait, and proved to be more severe and prolonged than forecast. The Toll Interislander ferry Aratere sailed from Wellington on the afternoon of that day bound for Picton, in lively conditions. From the summary of Maritime New Zealand incident reports:-“Aratere was heading to the north entrance to Queen Charlotte Sound and moving easily with a 3-4° yaw each side of its heading. At 4.44p.m., Aratere was struck by two large swells 10-metres plus, which were out of step with the prevailing conditions. Aratere sheered heavily to port causing a severe heel to starboard (about 45-50°). This caused rail wagon lashings to part and tip over. At 5.19p.m., an attempt to alter to port to heave to was made. Aratere would not turn, so course was resumed to run before the weather. At 5.21p.m., course was altered to 330° to ease motion. The vessel was again riding easily with the weather on the port quarter and a gentle 3-4° yaw, when it was again struck with large swells out of pattern with prevailing conditions. This caused a sheer to port with excessive heel to starboard (approximately 50°). This caused the 6th rail wagon to tip over and for vehicles on the top deck to move. The vessel then had a 5° list that was corrected when the vessel arrived in Picton. The vessel berthed in Picton at 10.26p.m. without further incident. One crew member and three passengers received bumps and bruising during the voyage.”
However, it took nearly two days to investigate the cause and to remove the overturned rail wagons from her rail deck, and it was 6p.m. on 5th March before Aratere resumed service by sailing from Picton back to Wellington.
Meanwhile, weather conditions had further deteriorated on the evening of 3rd March, with swells of up to ten metres off Baring Head later that evening, and up to twelve metres in the early hours of next morning. This resulted in all ferry sailings being cancelled after Wellington-bound ferries arrived in port from Cook Strait, with Santa Regina staying in Picton. Some moderation of conditions saw ferry sailings resume from Wellington from noon on 4th March.
“Aratere” Engine Fails
Engine problems in Cook Strait forced the ferry Aratere to take an alternative route into the Marlborough Sounds at about 7.30p.m.on the night of 19th April 2006. A mechanical failure as the ferry approached Tory Channel saw the Master deviate to the northern entrance to Queen Charlotte Sound to give the ship more room to manoeuvre. Maritime New Zealand said the ferry reported a brief power blackout as it switched to backup power after the engine failure. Full propulsion was regained after about twenty minutes. Some passengers in Picton waiting for the return sailing to Wellington said they were upset to hear she would be delayed by at least two hours.
The “Marlborough Express” reported that “The lights went out and all went quiet on board the Aratere when the Interislander Line ferry lost power as it headed to Picton last night. Passengers estimated the Aratere was four or five kilometres from Tory Channel when the lights went out and the engines went dead. Emergency lights went on quickly but passengers did not know for some time what had happened. The mechanical failure hit as the Aratere approached Tory Channel and was forced to use the Northern Entrance into Queen Charlotte Sound.”
Fewer Tourists Coming to Marlborough
In mid-January 2006 visitor numbers during Marlborough’s important summer tourism season appeared to have taken a drop, according to some Picton businesses. Anecdotal reports have it that yachtsmen are saying there were fewer boats in the Sounds this year, while businesses say the volume of tourists seems to have fallen. Petrol price rises, weather and the high Kiwi dollar are being blamed. Petrol and diesel sales at the pump at Waikawa marina were down about ten per cent on last year for December to January. There were fewer tourists in general visiting the town. Some said that it was cheaper to fly to Brisbane than cross over from the North Island with a car.
It is understood that the numbers of passengers using the Cook Strait ferries was also reduced. As well as the reasons given above, it was also considered that the absence of a fast-