Aratere Stopped Until Ruled Safe


Maritime New Zealand says the interisland ferry Aratere can not sail until issues are resolved and they rule it is safe for passengers and crew.

This follows recent mechanical system failures, which have caused disruption to the service.

MNZ has imposed conditions on the Aratere.

This means that the vessel will not be in operation until the Director of MNZ and Class Society (surveyors) are satisfied that the ongoing problems have been resolved and that the vessel is safe to operate.

The Aratere returned home to Wellington mid-September after a five-month extension and $53m refurbishment in Singapore.

But KiwiRail insists the issues currently affecting Aratere were not “directly linked” to the ship’s recent extension in Singapore.

NZ First leader Winston Peters says since the vessel returned from shipyards in Singapore after being lengthened by 30 metres, it has been plagued with problems.

He says the problems with loading shorter rail wagons have resulted in:

  •  Aratere bending along the keel
  •  Toilets not working properly
  •  Freight capacity for trucks being reduced from 22 to 12
  • Aratere breaking down within a few days of arrival

“The latest is that the fuel system is not working properly and that thousands of litres of fuel appears to have been ‘lost’. It is important to find out whether this is an equipment malfunction or whether thousands of litres of fuel is floating around Cook Strait somewhere.”

Media reports say there are also rats on board.

Aratere: not allowed to leave port | Anthony Phelps

Over the past 24 hours, Maritime Safety Inspectors have been on the vessel monitoring the situation.

General Manager, Maritime Services Sharyn Forsyth says MNZ is working closely with KiwiRail to identify and resolve issues.

Ms Forsyth says “MNZ Maritime Safety Inspectors were on board the vessel this morning during a sea trial in Wellington Harbour, when the Aratere experienced another failure thought to be unrelated to previous events”.

Before any further sea trials can be carried out, KiwiRail will present a plan to MNZ outlining how they will ensure the safety of the vessel during testing.

Maritime New Zealand may also require further conditions to be met before allowing full commercial operations to resume, such as freight only sailings or requiring a route through the northern passage.

“Safety of the crew and passengers is paramount. We will be monitoring the situation closely and can assure the public that the vessel will not operate commercially until we are sure it is safe to do so.”

On Monday night, the Aratere experienced a reduction in power in Tory Channel about 7.20pm.

The master continued into Cook Strait because the weather was mild, and power was restored to the engines shortly afterwards. The ship did not stop at any point, although speed was reduced to 3 knots at the slowest part of its trip.

The ship continued across Cook Strait, but suffered another failure with a fuel control module where a pipe fractured and spraying the space with fuel vapour.

This set off a fire alarm, but there was no fire on the ship.

Engines were shut down while an alternative fuel supply was switched on. Aratere continued to Wellington picking up speed to 13 knots along the Wellington south coast, and then completed a slow circle at the Heads to Wellington Harbour, while waiting for a tug to attend alongside as a precautionary measure.

It berthed without assistance at 11.40pm, about two hours later than scheduled. An incident report was filed with Maritime New Zealand at 12.48am.


Earlier NZ First leader Winston Peters claimed Aratere is regarded as a “dog” on the Wellington waterfront and the travelling public can have little confidence in it.

A fortnight ago he raised  it and had called on the for the government to explain why the alterations to Aratere have resulted in a dysfunctional shambles.






You can be the first one to leave a comment.


Leave a Comment


XHTML: You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>