It’s a “weird coincidence” that within a matter of days two Cook Strait ferries, from two separate companies, heading in opposite directions, hit different wharves in Wellington causing damage.
A Bluebridge ferry was forced to turn back on Wednesday after it hit a wharf on its way out of the capital.
StraitNZ Bluebridge spokesman Will Dady said the Connemara “nudged” the wharf, causing minor damage to the wharf and the ship’s hull above the waterline. It was repaired and returned to service the same day.
The eastern corner edge of the Glasgow wharf was damaged and Centreport is still working to assess what repairs are required. The rest of the wharf is still operational.
Then on Sunday night, rival operator Interislander got into trouble.
Its Kaiarahi ferry hit a wharf coming into berth at Wellington about 10pm, ripping a hole in its hull.
Interislander operations general manager Duncan Roy expected Kaiarahi sailings would be cancelled for the next week while KiwiRail worked “around the clock” to get the ship safely back into operation.
“All affected customers will be contacted and offered an alternative sailing. If customers cannot use the alternative sailing offered, they can apply for a later sailing at no extra cost, otherwise, refunds are available.
“We are working as quickly as possible to move passengers and commercial customers to alternative sailings and are putting on additional sailings of our other ferries.”
An internal investigation is under way into exactly what happened and KiwiRail has said it is unable to comment further in the meantime.
But Roy did confirm there was no connection to the Bluebridge incident.
A fender on the Interislander wharf was damaged as a result of the incident. A wharf fender is a device that absorbs the impact of a vessel berthing against a jetty or wharf.
The fender is still operational but Centreport will need to carry out repairs.
Harbourmaster Grant Nalder said he didn’t know why each incident happened and that would be for the ferry companies to determine.
“It’s just a weird coincidence.”
Maritime New Zealand is making initial inquiries into both incidents and could not comment further at this stage.
Georgina Campbell is a Wellington-based reporter who has a particular interest in local government, transport, and seismic issues. She joined the Herald in 2019 after working as a broadcast journalist.
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