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Napier Confirmed For Major New Shipping Service

Port Of Napier Ltd
Media Statement

Napier Confirmed For Major New Shipping Service

“Very satisfying result” after three years of hard work, says Port Chief Executive

Port of Napier has welcomed its selection by P&O Nedlloyd as one of only three New Zealand ports of call for the shipping company’s new generation of super container ships, the 4100 TEU Albatross Class or “Eastabouts”.

It is a very positive decision for the Port of Napier and its shippers, as well as the Hawke’s Bay region. The other two NZ ports of call are Auckland and Port Chalmers.

The decision marks a major addition to shipping services available through Napier, which was selected ahead of Wellington and Tauranga as the second North Island port. It will service cargoes to and from the East Coast of North America and North Europe and results from the merging of two separate shipping services into one weekly direct service calling into Napier. Presently, Napier has the North Europe service, with the East Coast North America component a service improvement for regional shippers.

Port of Napier Chief Executive Garth Cowie says the decision is “particularly satisfying” given the three years of intensive work to achieve it, as well as the significant investment in facilities and infrastructure.

“From the very beginning the Port set about implementing a strategy to win this service and the initiatives have found favour with P&O Nedlloyd. Major shippers in the region have encouraged our efforts and with Napier’s selection, regional cargo will continue to move through Napier as the most efficient port option.

“This decision by P&O Nedlloyd is one which every member of our staff can be justifiably proud of, as it is a reflection of the port’s operational efficiency.

“It is also an endorsement of the region’s shippers, whose growth – particularly that of high value reefer cargo - has been a reason for the port’s development. We expect this major new service improvement will bring a further boost in the medium term to the region’s prospects for economic growth. Shipping services are a major draw card for attracting new manufacturing investment and the like.”

The decision by P&O Nedlloyd rationalises the number of ports served by its current services – on 2 separate schedules - to the East Coast of North America and North Europe. The current Eastabouts service for instance makes five port calls throughout NZ every two weeks and will now move to weekly calls at just three NZ ports.

Mr Cowie says the weekly visits by the giant container ships will mean cargo gains and additional tonnages from areas beyond Hawke’s Bay as well, and these will further challenge local transport options and infrastructure for road, rail and coastal shipping.

Regarded for some time as the major container port for the lower North Island, the inclusion of Napier in the new Eastabouts schedule confirms the port’s status as one of New Zealand’s big-four container ports with the capability to match any port and container terminal in Australasia.

The attractiveness of the new P&O Nedlloyd service to Port of Napier shippers underpinned the value of widespread new investment in marine systems and protocols, customer service, the integrated container terminal and information systems.

Mr Cowie said some of this investment was obvious, like the new $9 million tug “Ahuriri”, the commissioning of a third container crane, two new forklifts, and extra plugs for the storage of refrigerated containers.

“Just as important have been the less visible investments in new technology to support pilotage services, and software for the management of the container terminal. Such technology for instance will allow us to check under keel clearance on a real time basis on arrival and departure of all vessels visiting the port, including that of the super container ships.

“We have always characterised these developments as an investment for future growth. The future is now here. We are looking forward to a long and fruitful partnership with this new service.”

The Eastabouts draw their name from the easterly direction that the new service will travel around the world. After Napier the service will call at Port Chalmers and then onto the East Coast of North America via the Panama Canal and then on to North Europe. The return journey to New Zealand will be via the Suez Canal and Australia.

To date Napier has had 8 visits from P&O Nedlloyd’s new 281 metre vessels, the first being on 11 February this year. The new Albatross Class vessels are progressively entering the existing Eastabouts service schedule upon delivery from their Asian shipyard prior to the commencement of the expanded service, which will occur in late November 2002.

Profile of the new vessels: 281 metres in length; 4100 TEU's total capacity;
1300 TEU's reefer capacity.

ENDS

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