New propeller shafts for ferry

TIM DONOGHUE
Last updated 17:51 18/03/2014
aratere propeller

RECOVERED: The propeller, which broke off from Aratere in Cook Strait on November 5, was recovered from the seabed by Seaworks last week.

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InterIslander's Cook Strait ferry Aratere is being fitted with two new propeller shafts while it is dry-docked at the Keppel shipyard in Singapore. 

Following Aratere's arrival in Singapore late last month the port shaft was closely inspected and a decision made it too should be replaced.

The port shaft inspection occurred after the starboard propeller shaft snapped on Aratere during a routine sailing from Picton to Wellington on the night of November 5 last year. 

InterIslander's general manager Thomas Davis confirmed the two old propellers removed from the ship at Sembawang in 2011 would be pressed back in to service and re-attached to the new shafts.In 2011 Aratere underwent an earlier, costly five-month $53.8 million extension at another Singapore shipyard. 

The super-sizing project involved the installation of a new 30-metre mid-body section in the ship, as well as a new stern profile, a new bow, new generators, two new (now redundant) propellers and a total interior refurbishment. 

The propeller that fell off Aratere on last November, will be returned to Wellington along with the port propeller, which was also fitted to the ship in 2011.

"The ship will return to service with the propellers that were on it prior to the 2011 extension project,'' said Davis. "The propellers installed in 2011 will be returned to New Zealand and will be examined further as part of the incident [Transport Accident Investigation Commission] investigation. Since the 2011 extension project there have also been ongoing problems with Aratere's starboard stabiliser. 

Davis said both the port and starboard stabilisers would be refurbished as "part of the normal scope of work" while in Singapore.

The Aratere sailed out of Wellington on one propeller on Saturday, February 8, 2014 for the three week voyage to Singapore. 

Prior to his departure from KiwiRail at the end of last month outgoing chief executive Jim Quinn estimated Aratere's broken propeller shaft could cost the company up to $30 million. 

The $30 million figure included the six-month charter costs of replacement Swedish-owned vessel Stena Alegra (while Aratere undergoes repairs in Singapore). 

Quinn also anticipated Aratere would be back in service on Cook Strait, all going well, by early May. 

Aratere's 2011 Singapore expansion project was overseen by Davis and the company's former shipping services boss Peter Clarke.

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- Wellington

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