Taharoa Express - lengthy operation

24 June 2007

The listing bulk iron sand carrier Taharoa Express, anchored in Tasman Bay, has completed the first stage of the operation to right itself.

Maritime New Zealand says that seas had calmed sufficiently for a maritime safety inspector to safely board the vessel this morning. The inspector has reported that the list has reduced to 14 degrees. Vessel operators have decided to keep the vessel at this list and now start the next step of pumping excess water off the top of the cargo. We understand that extra equipment and pumps are being flown by helicopter to the vessel from Nelson.

Once the excess water has been removed, more ballast sea water will be taken on to continue the process of bringing the vessel upright. This will be a very lengthy process because of the size of the vessel (275 m long) and the large quantities of cargo and ballast involved.

There are no concerns for the safety of the crew or the vessel. The vessel and its 25 crew will not depart until the weather has eased and Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) is satisfied that the vessel is seaworthy.

The vessel first reported to MNZ at 2.30am Friday morning that it had a problem after its load of iron sand shifted while in rough sea about 42 nautical miles (78km) south west of Cape Egmont. It headed for safe anchorage in Tasman Bay where it arrived late Friday afternoon and has remained anchored 15 nautical miles north of Nelson.

The vessel provides a regular cargo service between China or Japan from Port Taharoa in the Waikato.

More information will be made available as it comes to hand.

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