Hopes Aratere can limp across Strait

TIM DONOGHUE
Last updated 05:00 02/12/2013

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Talks aimed at allowing the broken ferry Aratere to cross Cook Strait on single-propeller sailings will be held in Maritime NZ offices in Wellington over the next two days.

Interislander wants the Aratere to be able to make a single daily return crossing, subject to stringent conditions, before its replacement roll-on roll-off ferry Stena Alegra from Poland arrives this month.

It is understood that the talks will involve Marlborough harbourmaster Alex Van Wijngaarden, Wellington harbourmaster Mike Pryce, Maritime NZ and classification society Det Norske Veritas personnel.

One proposal involves the Aratere being tug-assisted in and out of Wellington Harbour as far as Barrett Reef and also being helped in and out between Picton and the northern entrance of Queen Charlotte Sound.

The Aratere's starboard propeller shaft snapped outside Tory Channel on November 5 on a routine night sailing from Picton to Wellington.

Recovery work to raise the propeller from the Cook Strait seabed is under way, after its location was discovered by Seaworks last week.

Interislander is keen to obtain permission from DNV and Maritime NZ to allow the freight-only return daily sailing as a means of dealing with the Christmas freight transportation problem across Cook Strait.

KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn has confirmed the Aratere would eventually sail to Singapore for dry docking for the repair of the starboard shaft and propeller.

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- The Dominion Post

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