Pelican Suction Dredge sails out of Timaru Harbour for final time
A suction dredge ship which has been sucking sand out of Timaru's Harbour for almost 30 years, has sailed out of Timaru for the final time.
The ship has been visiting Timaru since 1988, and finished its last visit on Sunday.
"It was basically used to dredge out the harbour. It was used to dredge out excess sands so bigger ships could sail through," Pelican Suction Dredge temporary project manager, Peter John, said.
The ship had a long and interesting history of operations, John said.
"She's been working on the New Zealand coast since 1988. She also did trips to Australia and Noumea, in French Polynesia," he said.
The ship conducted extensive operations across the North and South Islands during this time.
"She's been a big part of port and harbour operations in New Zealand," John said.
Ship master Scott Rogers said the ship functioned like an ocean vacuum, sucking excess grains off the sea floor.
The ship was operated by two four-person crews, who split shifts, Rogers said.
"We work 24 hours a day, on two different crews.
"There's like four crew on board; a master, a first mate, a pipe operator, and an engineer. And we just swap over every 12 hours," Rogers said.
The ship either pumps sea floor material to shore by pipe, or splits itself in half on shore to dump the material, he said.
The Pelican will sail north to Tauranga, where it will conduct its final dredging job.
It is then likely to be decommissioned, and sold for scrap, he said.
The Pelican Suction Dredge will be replaced by a newer, Dutch owned ship, the Albatros Hopper Suction Dredge. The Albatros is owned by Netherlands based company Dutch Dredging.
Dutch Dredging won a 10 year contract to conduct dredging operations for five New Zealand ports, including Timaru's PrimePort, in November 2016.