Wellington Scoop

Aratere makes test run to Picton; passenger services resume next week

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News from KiwiRail
Aratere will today cross Cook Strait for the first time since last year. She will leave Wellington at 1700 on a ‘proving’ (test) run, and is scheduled to arrive in Picton at approx. 2030.

Aratere is expected to leave Picton tonight at approx. 2215 on her return journey.

Later this week Aratere is scheduled to begin freight-only sailings across the Strait on a reduced timetable.

Currently, Aratere is scheduled to start carrying passengers across Cook Strait in the week beginning 14 July.

News from KiwiRail – July 9
The Aratere has been cleared to return to service. KiwiRail Chief Executive Peter Reidy says the priority for both his company and regulatory authorities has been ensuring the ship is performing safely ahead of next week’s planned return to full passenger services.

“Under international maritime law, an extensive range of rules and regulations govern operational ships, meaning over the last week Maritime New Zealand and classification society surveyors, DNV, have put Aratere through an intense audit schedule to ensure she is safe to resume service.”

Mr Reidy said signoff had been achieved from DNV, and now MNZ were also satisfied Aeatere would undertake a ‘proving’ (test) run across Cook Strait on Thursday.

As well, before returning to service additional staff training will be completed.

“Our team has done a great job in preparing Aratere to return to service since she arrived back in Wellington last week.

“All going well, Aratere is scheduled to start carrying passengers across Cook Strait in the week of 14 July.”

Earlier: Trial crossing postponed again

News from KiwiRail – July 2
Interislander ferry Aratere berthed in Wellington this morning, following a five month absence during which she underwent repair work and scheduled two yearly dry dock maintenance in Singapore.

GM Interislander, Thomas Davis, said it was great to see the workhorse of the Interislander fleet return, ready to take her place alongside sister ships, Kaitaki and Arahura.

“At six sailings a day between Wellington and Picton, Aratere makes more sailings than the other ferries and provides 45% of Interislander’s capacity. She’s a hard worker.”

Mr Davis said over the next week classification society surveyors, as well as Maritime New Zealand, will check the ship is safe to resume service.

“Wellingtonians and visitors will see her undergoing sea trials around Wellington Harbour and in Cook Strait as she manoeuvres to test speed variations, direction and bow thrusters and stabilisers.”

Divers will also undertake an underwater inspection to check the condition of propellers, shaft seals, rudders and so on, and a number of other intensive tests and fine tuning will be also be carried out before the ferry is signed off as ready for service.

Mr Davis said safety is KiwiRail’s top priority.

“We will leave no stone unturned on safety, and Aratere will not sail until we’re satisfied about all aspects of the reconditioning programme.”

When Aratere resumes Cook Strait crossing, she will initially provide mainly freight sailings on a reduced timetable to allow onboard systems, processes and routines to be re-established, Mr Davis said.