Aratere reduced to two crossings

TIM DONOGHUE
Last updated 13:58 17/07/2014
ALEX LIU/STUFF

CEO of KiwiRail Peter Reidy speaks to media about the Interislander ferry Aratere.

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Interislander is examining the possibility of fitting two new propellers to Cook Strait ferry Aratere in the middle of next year, possibly in an Australian shipyard.

This was confirmed by KiwiRail chief executive Peter Reidy, who would not rule out the prospect of the propellers taken off in Singapore earlier this year being refitted to the ship. 

The company had also decided to reduce Aratere's workload from three to two return crossings per day because it was not sailing quickly enough to keep to the current schedule of three round trips per day.

Reidy also confirmed Interislander would be waiting till it had a definitive reason for why the propeller fell off on November 5 last year, before making a decision on possibly refitting the propellers placed on the ship in 2011 at  Sembawang shipyard in Singapore.

The propellers currently on the ship were the original ones placed on it when it was built in Spain in 1999. 

During the past week average sailing times, when compared to pre-November 5 sailing times when Aratere lost its starboard propeller across Cook Strait, have been running 15 minutes slower on sailings across the strait.

Aratere resumed passenger sailings across Cook Strait this week, eight months after losing its starboard propeller on November 5 last year.

Peter Wells, manager of shipping services at Interislander, said sea speed trials in Singapore saw Aratere perform at a level which gave the company confidence it could handle three return crossings per day.

But speeds achieved in Singapore sea trials in calm waters had not been achieved on Cook Strait.

The reduced sailing timetable will now see Aratere leaving Wellington for Picton on weekdays at 2pm and 11.20pm and leaving Picton for Wellington at 6.40pm and 4am. 

Aratere returned to New Zealand on July 1 after a three-month refurbishment in Singapore.

In 2011 the ship was extended by 30 metres, also in a Singapore shipyard.

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- The Dominion Post

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