Aratere heads to Asia for repairs

The first female master of an Interislander ferry, Jenny Cuttriss, has been rostered to take command of the crippled ship Aratere on a scheduled voyage to Singapore this month.

It is understood Captain Cuttriss is expected to take charge of Aratere on a sailing out of Wellington bound for Singapore this weekend.

Until recently Captain Cuttriss was chief mate on Aratere, which lost its starboard propeller during a routine sailing from Picton to Wellington on the night of November 5.

Aratere is expected to take three weeks to sail to Singapore, where there are drydock contract plans afoot to replace at least one propeller and shaft on the vessel.

Interislander spokeswoman Sophie Lee said the new skipper was too busy preparing for the voyage to speak to media before departure.

KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn said no decision had yet been made on which drydock Aratere would have its repair work done on in Asia.

Aratere has been temporarily replaced on the Cook Strait run by the Swedish owned roll-on, roll-off charter vessel Stena Alegra.

In 2011, Aratere underwent a five-month $53.8 million extension project at a Sembawang shipyard.

The project involved the installation of a new 30-metre mid-body in the ship, as well as a new bow, generators and stern profile, and a total interior refurbishment.

The 2011 Singapore expansion project was overseen by Interislander general manager Thomas Davis and the company's former shipping services boss, Peter Clarke.

The Marlborough Express