Maritime NZ delays Aratere freight sailings

02:55, Jul 07 2014

Interislander's troubled ferry, Aratere, will not be making its first scheduled freight sailing from Wellington to Picton tonight.

The ferry has undergone intensive tests under the watchful eyes of Maritime New Zealand inspectors since it returned to Wellington from Singapore  last week. It had a three-month refurbishment in Singapore after its propeller fell off in Cook Strait on November 5 last year.

It requires Maritime NZ clearance in Wellington before being allowed to return to sea.

A Maritime New Zealand spokeswoman told Fairfax Media this afternoon Aratere would not be sailing anywhere tonight.

"Aratere is not cleared to sail tonight. The vessel is still undergoing inspections by Maritime New Zealand."

At a press conference in Wellington on Monday last week, KiwiRail put out a press release stating the ship would resume mainly freight-only sailings across Cook Strait from Monday, July 7.

It became obvious yesterday all was not well with Aratere's scheduled return to a freight-only service today when a proposed return trial sailing between Wellington and Picton did not take place.

One of the tests monitored by Maritime NZ and conducted over the weekend, was a lifeboat test.

KiwiRail spokeswoman Helen Corrigan did not respond to emailed questions from Fairfax Media on the subject of Aratere's return to freight-service duty today.