Foxton wharf upgraded to allow for 170 tonne boat launch video

David Unwin/ Fairfax NZ

Foxton Wharf is under construction as Profab look to expand the ramp to give the boat access to the water. Workers from Caldow Builders work on extending the ramp.

The Foxton wharf has had to be specially widened to allow for an "enormous" 170 tonne boat to be launched to sea.

The 34-metre-long, 11.5m-wide and 170-tonne boat was made by Profab Engineering, from Palmerston North, and was transported to Foxton last week.

 Its size meant it had to taken there in two pieces and assembled on site.

Workers from Caldow Builders work on extending the ramp.
David Unwin/ Fairfax NZ

Workers from Caldow Builders work on extending the ramp.

Profab Engineering owner Carl Ferguson said it had taken 14 months to get to this stage and was due to launch in three weeks.

The multi-role boat can operate as a dive boat, with compression chambers on board, is capable of ferrying crews to oil and gas rigs, and will be fit with a remote operated vehicle capable of diving to investigate sites, such as the Rena wreck off the coast of Tauranga.

It can be driven backwards into oil rigs, with a second helm at the back of the wheelhouse, and is equipped with dynamic positioning, which means it can be controlled with a joystick and be held in place regardless of waves and swells.

Workers from Caldow Builders work on extending the ramp.
David Unwin/ Fairfax NZ

Workers from Caldow Builders work on extending the ramp.

The boat is powered by two main diesel engines, with 715 horsepower and four generators, however everything else is electric.

"Most of the boat is electric. A lot of boats like this use hydraulics, this one is a little bit different," Ferguson said.

A boat they built in February 2014 was a "sister ship" to this, but only 24m by comparison.

The 170 tonne boat waiting to be launched at the Foxton wharf.
David Unwin/ Fairfax NZ

The 170 tonne boat waiting to be launched at the Foxton wharf.

To enable the launch, the Foxton wharf has had to be widened an extra 5m.

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"The mouth of the ramp wasn't wide enough for the boat to go through."

Caldow Builders have been working on the ramp for the past fortnight and are pouring concrete to strengthen the ramp to hold the combined weight of the boat and the truck that will carry it - about 250 tonnes in total.

Owner Rodney Caldow said they would put down 130 cubic metres of concrete on Wednesday.

Caldow said they had been working through some nights to complete the job.

Foxton Community Board chairwoman Janine Smart said they had people coming "from near and far" to see the "enormous" boat.

She said the last boat to be launched there had generated "phenomenal" interest and they had been keen to get this one to launch there too.

"When we heard the possibility of another one, we chased it pretty hard," she said.

"We are trying to raise the profile of Foxton as a place that likes to make things happen... this is one of the pieces of the jigsaw."

New Zealand Diving and Salvage co-founder Dougal Fergus said the boat cost "multi millions".

This was a joint venture between the New Zealand and Australian branches of Guardian Offshore, which is owned by New Zealand Diving and Salvage.

This was the seventh of eight boats Profab had built for the two branches.

Fergus said this one could could be used in the offshore industry such as pipeline work, geophysical work or operate as a chase boat.

"It will work between here and Australia and the Pacific. It has the capacity to go anywhere in the world - apart from Antarctica."

 - Stuff

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