Severe weather event Auckland Harbour
Severe weather event Auckland Harbour - Coastguard Operations Centre response
Attribute to Mr Hemi Manaena, Coastguard Duty Officer
The Coastguard Operations Centre at Mechanics Bay was alerted to a serious weather event which impacted the downtown Auckland area, including a large portion of the city wharves, Westhaven Marina, and the Viaduct Harbour, by the Auckland Police Maritime Unit at 22:07 hours yesterday evening.
Strong localised thunderstorm gusts caused significant damage to moored vessels, upturning and sinking large recreational vessels in and around Westhaven Marina and casting adrift the commercial Great Barrier Island car ferry from Wynyard Terminal. Several large portacom units, shipping containers, cars and pylons were also lost into the harbour.
Lion Foundation Rescue and Trillian Rescue Alpha, Coastguard Rescue Vessels from Mechanics Bay were tasked to respond and assist the Police with securing vessels and debris adrift, and to undertake welfare checks with impacted vessels to ensure all personnel were accounted for. Luckily, reports so far indicate that no mariners were harmed during this event.
The large amount of flotsam and debris in and around the inner harbour remains a significant hazard to navigation, and this will likely be the case for some time until all of it can be recovered. Particular areas to remain extra vigilant include off Princes and Hobson Wharves adjacent to the Maritime Museum, the entrance to the Viaduct Harbour and Westhaven Marina – there are submerged objects in these areas which could cause catastrophic damage if impacted with at speed. Owners of vessels in marinas should wait until morning to check on their boats; some marina infrastructure also sustained large amounts of damage and could potentially be unsafe.
The full extent of the damage will become apparent in the morning, however the coordinated multi-agency response from Ports of Auckland, Police, Coastguard and commercial operators, has no doubt ensured as minimal impact on the harbour infrastructure and boating public as possible.
Coastguard Radio has issued a navigation warning broadcast to shipping in the area, and will continue to monitor the situation throughout the night and into tomorrow. All rescue assets were stood down and returned to the Auckland Marine Rescue Centre at Mechanics Bay by 0045hrs.