13 Sep 2016

Aratere out of action for rudder repair

11:56 am on 13 September 2016

Sailings of the Cook Strait ferry Aratere have been cancelled until problems with the ship's rudder are fixed.

The Aratere in Wellington in 2011 after it was lengthened.

The Aratere is out of action for repairs to its portside rudder. Photo: RNZ

The Interislander ferry's sailings were cancelled yesterday and there are none scheduled for today or tomorrow.

KiwRail said there were hydraulic problems with the ship's portside rudder and seals on the portside steering gear were starting to degrade.

It hoped to the ferry back in action by the end of the week and in the meantime all passengers had been accommodated and another ferry, the Kaiarahi has been brought back into service after a layover.

The Aratere has had a history of mechanical problems, losing one of its propellors during a crossing in 2013.

The ship was sent to Singapore for repairs costing millions of dollars but on its return to service one of its six engines failed.

KiwiRail said the rudder issue had nothing to do with the propellors.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges said the Aratere's mechanical record was nor a concern and ships would break down from time to time.

"Obviously we'd prefer to see the vessels going 100 percent of the time but I think if you look over the life of that vessel and across the average of the vessels that KiwiRail has it's well over 90 percent travel rate."

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The ferry lost a propellor during a Cook Strait crossing in 2013. Photo: RNZ

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