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Port offers unique service for oversized ship

Media Release

Friday 19 May 2006

Auckland port offers unique service for oversized ship

Ports of Auckland and the Auckland Regional Council are this week providing what other New Zealand ports cannot for the giant ship the FPSO Whakaaropai.

The enormous size and draft of the vessel and also that it has no ship mooring lines and only one anchor, means it is not permitted to enter the port area like normal cargo ships. Instead, a complex operation is being organised by the Ports of Auckland’s marine services team and the Auckland Regional Council (ARC) Harbourmaster.

Ports of Auckland marine operations supervisor Leigh Rusbridge said: “This is not a typical ship call.

It requires a high level of organisation and management. We have been working closely with the Harbourmaster on the safety guidelines for the vessels’ call and organising our pilots and tug operators for this rare occasion,” During its first journey in over ten years the FPSO Whakaaropai (Floating Production Storage & Offloading Facility) will anchor in the Hauraki Gulf, where a bunker barge will connect hoses to the ship for refuelling.

A Ports of Auckland pilot will be flown in by helicopter, which will land on the stern of the ship. For safety reasons the pilot and a manned Ports of Auckland tug boat must then stay with the vessel during its entire two day call in the Auckland Region.

Deputy Harbour master Jim Dilley said: “Auckland is the only port that is able to provide such a service. Auckland has the most sheltered waters and the Port of Auckland is the only port in New Zealand with bunker barge facilities for refuelling of this type."

The FPSO Whakaaropai will be visible to some North Shore, Rodney and Waiheke Island residents while it is anchored at the Number Nine anchorage in the Hauraki Gulf (10 kilometres off the coast between the Whangaparoa Peninsula and Motatapu Island).

Ports of Auckland Marine Services Ports of Auckland’s marine services team is tasked with organising and executing this complex operation for the FPSO Whakaaropai.

Ports of Auckland’s marine services provides piloting, towing and line-handling services at the Auckland, Onehunga and Whangarei Harbours, and manages the overseas passenger terminal at Princes Wharf during the many cruise ship visits to Auckland.

Auckland Regional Council – Regional Harbourmaster

The ARC Harbourmaster’s role is to provide safe and efficient maritime management for commercial and recreational users of the region’s waters.

For the FPSO Whakaaropai visit the Harbourmaster was responsible for giving permission for the ship to call and for the operation to take place, setting the safety guidelines, and communicating with other marine agencies and recreational harbour users about the 200-metre exclusion zone around the vessel.

“While the ship has been well maintained, this is the first time it has ventured out in quite some time.

For safety reasons the pilot drop off and pick up and refuelling will only be permitted in daylight hours and bunkering will only take place in suitable weather and sea conditions.

“We are advising recreational harbour users to take note of the 200-metre exclusion zone around the ship,” said Jim Dilley.

The FPSO Whakaaropai

The FPSO Whakaaropai has been based off the Taranaki coast at the Maui gas and oil fields for more than ten years, offering a production and storage facility for crude oil. During its use the vessel was held in position by a ten anchor system attached to a turret which allowed it to turn 360 degrees around the anchorage.

The ship is now being sold overseas. It is expected to arrive in Auckland’s waters on Monday during its first sailing in ten years.

The FPSO Whakaaropai has a length of 293 metres and is extremely wide at 43 metres. When in full operation the ship’s hull extends nearly 14 metres down into the water - two meters deeper than is currently allowed to enter the shipping lane and port area.


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