Aratere returns to capital

Last updated 09:23 02/07/2014

HOMECOMING QUEEN: The Aratere Interislander ferry is back in Wellington after extensive repairs in Singapore.

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Almost eight months after its starboard propeller shaft broke off mid-sailing, Cook Strait ferry Aratere is back in Wellington.

But the ferry, which has undergone extensive repairs in Singapore, still needs to be certified and tested and was not expected to be back carrying passengers till the week after next.

Interislander general manager Thomas Davis said the ordeal had done ''a little bit'' of damage to public confidence in the ferry but the company planned to run a safe and reliable service to repair faith in it.

Before taking passengers the ferry would need safety checks from Maritime New Zealand and certification body Det Norske Veritas, or DNV.

She would also be set up for passengers, including moving furniture and other items back on board.

Speaking in front of the ferry this morning, where the Aratere had just arrived from Singapore via Australia, he refused to comment on why the propeller shaft broke off in November last year.

Interislander knew the cause but would not comment till ''legal and insurance processes'' had been worked through.

All would eventually be revealed, he said.

In Singapore, the ferry also got a fresh paint job and other scheduled servicing.

The ferry would be going through testing in Wellington Harbour and possibly Cook Strait in the coming days.

From next week it would hopefully be taking freight, with passenger services back the following week, Davis said.

Meanwhile, replacement ferry Stena Alegra, which was was brought from Poland to cover Aratere during repairs, had now been returned to her owner.

She would leave Wellington this week for an unknown port, Davis said.

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- The Dominion Post


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