Long ship makes short visit
What is thought to be the longest ship ever to visit Port Nelson made a brief call yesterday- and gained the unofficial record by just 29cm.
The Maersk container ship Algarrobo measures 225.09m. The previous longest ship the port can confirm was the much bigger Blue Marlin, the world's biggest heavy transport ship, which is 224.8m long but also 53m wide, and presented special challenges to pilots as it traversed the Cut at the entrance to the port in mid-2008.
A special exclusion zone was set up for its arrival and departure, and crowds lined Wakefield Quay and hillside vantage points to watch it.
By comparison the Algarrobo is a conventional vessel and harbourmaster Dave Duncan said on Tuesday morning the arrival had gone very smoothly. The ship had been brought into port at the top of the tide to ensure minimal current, and two tugs were used, the usual arrangement for large ships.
With the Algarrobo, ''We just used our usual parameters. It's an excellent ship with a professional crew,'' Captain Duncan said. It was due to leave at 12.45pm.
The visit came at at time when a cloud looms over the future of Maersk shipping through the port, with the giant line reviewing its New Zealand services.
The Maersk Aberdeen and Maersk Radford have been regular callers at Port Nelson.
Port company chief executive Martin Byrne said Maersk was ceasing its existing trans-Tasman service. ''They're rejigging and looking at other services at the moment so things should become clearer in the next week,'' he said.
''It would be a concern if they ceased calling here, but they're still working through options at the moment.''
Maersk spokesman John Redwood said the direct trans-Tasman service was being cut because it hadn't been sufficiently supported. ''Being a direct service, it's a premium price.''
The company expected to probably make an announcement later in the week, but it was not a strong possibility that Maersk ships wouldn't be coming to Port Nelson in future.
Maersk carries seafood and fruit from Port Nelson among other products, and the port is often home to hundreds of empty containers. Mr Redwood said one of the challenges the company faced was the imbalance between imports and exports from different ports, making the correct positioning of containers a headache.
''We don't get paid for moving fresh air around.''
- © Fairfax NZ News