Door crack puts ferry out again

Interislander's Arahura ferry was out of action again on Saturday after a crack was found in the vessel's stern door.

The discovery came less than a week after the ferry was taken out of service when a cable attaching a lifeboat snapped during what the company said was a routine drill.

A KiwiRail spokesperson said the crack was found during an inspection on Friday night. The decision to cancel Saturday's morning sailing was made in consultation with Maritime New Zealand.

Passengers were not affected as the sailing was freight-only - the ship had already been declared off-limits to passengers until new cabling was installed on all the 30-year-old ship's lifeboats.

Interislander general manager Thomas Davis said yesterday that the crack in the stern door was in the structure, not the skin of the door, and the door would not open correctly.

He said watertightness was not compromised.

"The crack has been repaired and the ship entered service again yesterday afternoon," he said.

"We are concerned about the impact this is having on our customers and the perception of Interislander's reliability. We believe this is an unfortunate and unrelated series of incidents."

Meanwhile, passengers on Friday's 2pm Kaitaki sailing from Picton were delayed by about an hour.

Paul Langley, of Blenheim, who was heading to Wellington for a representative bowls tournament, said no explanation was given to passengers for the delay.

KiwiRail senior communications adviser Sophie Lee was not able to give a reason for the delay. She said Interislander was in constant contact with customers.

It has been a tough few months for Interislander. In November a propeller on the railfreight ferry Aratere broke off outside Tory Channel. That vessel is now on its way to a Singapore dry dock for repairs.

The Aratere has been temporarily replaced by Swedish charter vessel Stena Alegra.

The Marlborough Express