Replacement Cook Strait ferry damaged

ON AGAIN, OFF AGAIN: Freight trucks exit the Stena Alegra ferry.
ON AGAIN, OFF AGAIN: Freight trucks exit the Stena Alegra ferry.

Replacement Cook Strait ferry Stena Alegra has been pulled from service for five days after a berthing accident.

The ferry is tied up at Wellington wharf, where a gash of about six metres can be seen in its hull above the waterline.

Workers can be seen using a gas torch to repair the gash.

The accident happened about 1pm yesterday as the chartered ferry was berthing after a voyage from Picton. 

All passengers and cargo were taken off before the ship was sailed to Aotea Quay for a detailed damage assessment.

A spokeswoman said the accident, while berthing at Wellington, happened in ''the midst of extreme weather conditions''.

Repair work would take four to five days and all Stena Alegra sailings until Sunday had been cancelled.

All other ferries were running to schedule.

This is despite the Interislander website appearing to say all services on all sailings today - bar one - were suspended.

A spokeswoman said while bookings were suspended, sailings were not.

Stena Alegra has been on the Cook Strait run since February, as the replacement for the crippled Aratere, which is still in dry dock in Singapore after losing a propeller in Cook Strait in November.

Earlier this week, in response to questions from the Dominion Post, Interislander general manager Thomas Davis confirmed cracks to both rudders had also been discovered during Aratere's dry docking in Singapore. 

Aratere was on the verge of being returned to the water for sea trials this week with two new propeller shafts and refurbished stabilisers, after one propeller shaft snapped in Cook Strait on a routine sailing from Picton to Wellington on November 5.

Davis said Aratere's rudder problem was discovered when Aratere's two rudders were being replaced on the ship.

Commenting on Aratere's rudder problem on Monday, Davis said Stena Alegra would continue on the Cook Strait run as the replacement charter ship for Aratere.


The Dominion Post