Shipping containers blown into sea prompt CentrePort review of stacking video

ROBERT KITCHIN / Stuff.co.nz

A shipping container beached itself in Oriental Bay as Wednesday morning's wild weather cut power to Wellington homes.

CentrePort will launch a comprehensive review of stacking procedures after shipping containers were blown into Wellington Harbour for the second time in four months.

Strong northwesterly winds blew at least two shipping containers into Wellington harbour late on Tuesday night, harbourmaster Mike Pryce said.

Another two took a tumble  on dry land at the Thorndon container terminal, and another washed ashore on Oriental Parade beach before being winched off the sand by a crane on Wednesday afternoon.

The container washed up at Oriental Bay beach.
ROBERT KITCHIN / FAIRFAX NZ

The container washed up at Oriental Bay beach.

A fourth container blown into the water at the southern seawall of the port was secured by a CentrePort pilot boat and later recovered.

CentrePort spokeswoman Sarah Toase said recovery planning had being hampered by severe winds and tidal conditions.

It is at least the second time in four months that empty containers have been blown off the wharf.

the beached container is winched from Oriental Bay. It was one of two empty containers blown into the harbour by strong ...
CAMERON BURNELL / FAIRFAX NZ

the beached container is winched from Oriental Bay. It was one of two empty containers blown into the harbour by strong northwesterly winds late on Tuesday night.

The strong winds also caused a power cut to 1795 homes in Newlands at 4.45am, a Wellington Electricity spokesman said.

About 1000 homes had power restored at 5.37am, while the rest were restored by  6.15am. 

No particular electrical fault was found, but winds gusting to almost 120kmh were to blame for the outage, the spokesman said.

Wellington's recently reinstalled wind wand was blown flat after big gusts hit the city.
JOHN NICHOLSON / FAIRFAX NZ

Wellington's recently reinstalled wind wand was blown flat after big gusts hit the city.

The Bluebridge Cook Strait ferry spokeswoman Wendy Pannett said large objects such as containers floating in the harbour posed a hazard for ferries, "but authorities are generally quick to alert the ships' masters and remove any objects from shipping lanes. Failing that, the ship's radars and lookouts should detect any floating objects."

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Interislander spokeswoman Vida McCord said that, if a container was floating in a ferry's path, a tugboat would monitor the container and shine a spotlight on it so ships could see it and avoid it if needed.

However, Interislander was not "overly concerned" by Tuesday night's mishap, as the strong northwesterly pushed the container from CentrePort Quay towards Oriental Bay "and was therefore nowhere near Interislander's track". 

CentrePort was forced into building a new seawall after the 2013 Seddon earthquakes, which also damaged wharf piles, paving, and property. Pryce said earthquake damage had also brought the containers closer to the water.

The east-to-west stacked containers faced the full brunt of the winds, and the easiest solution would be to turn them around to face north-south, he said.

It is understood CentrePort will also consider dropping the maximum stacking height down from six containers.

In March, three were seen floating around the harbour, coming perilously close to damaging property. They were eventually secured and removed.

 - Stuff

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