Second Cook Strait ferry out of action

MISHAP: A lifeboat dangles from the side of Interislander ferry Arahura.
MISHAP: A lifeboat dangles from the side of Interislander ferry Arahura.

Cook Strait ferry Arahura had to be taken out of service yesterday after a cable attaching a lifeboat to its side snapped during a routine lifeboat drill in Picton.

It was due to sail from Picton to Wellington at 11am. The sailing had to be cancelled.

Nobody was hurt in the incident, but it has put more pressure on Interislander services as it means the company's two rail freight ferries, Aratere and Arahura, are out of action at the same time.

Aratere, which is on its way to Singapore to be repaired after one of its propellers came off in Cook Strait in November, has been temporarily replaced by Swedish charter ship Stena Alegra while it is overseas.

Interislander general manager Thomas Davis said it was fortunate the latest incident occurred on a Monday, when freight levels were routinely down.

However, it had a knock-on effect on other sailings, with the Kaitaki arriving in Wellington about an hour later than scheduled last night.

The Arahura sailed from the Interislander terminal in Picton to nearby Shakespeare Bay, where two land-based cranes were used to detach the lifeboat from the ship.

Representatives from classification society Det Norske Veritas will fly to Picton to inspect the Arahura. They will make a recommendation to Maritime New Zealand on what work needs to be done, and when the ferry might be permitted to return to service.

Arahura has been InterIslander's reliable 13,621 gross tonne rail ferry workhorse on the Cook Strait run for more than 30 years.

The latest incident occurred just two days after the crippled Aratere sailed out of Wellington Harbour for Singapore.

The Dominion Post