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New Coastal Vessel Sign Of ‘Sea Change’ Ahead

3 November 2008

New Coastal Vessel Sign Of ‘Sea Change’ Ahead

Pacifica Shipping will launch a 700 TEU new container ship on the coast next week, the first step in what it says is a vital expansion of domestic sea freight capacity.

The ‘Spirit of Endurance’ will be the largest New Zealand-operated ship in many decades to carry high volumes of container cargo in domestic waters, said Pacifica’s chief executive, Rod Grout.

“This is a real step forward for the country’s shipping industry, which has had more than its share of set-backs over the past 15 years,” Mr Grout said.

“At 130 metres long, the ship will move around 1,000 containers each week between the ports of Auckland, Tauranga, Canterbury and Otago.

“The two to three-day service between these regions will handle domestic goods as well as import and export cargo being trans-shipped.”

Mr Grout said the vessel was well suited to the Labour Government’s ‘Sea Change’ initiative of moving 30% of all freight by coastal ships by 2030.

“Moving goods by sea is the safest, cleanest and most efficient transport mode, a fact only lately acknowledged and acted on by policy planners.

“Its advantages are fuel efficiency, low carbon emissions and cost reductions for business efficiency.”

Mr Grout said sea freight accounted for 15% of total goods carried in New Zealand, about half of this on an ad hoc basis by in-transit overseas ships.

“By comparison, Japan moves 41% of its domestic freight by coastal ships, so we have a lot to aspire to in terms of growth potential,” he said.

“But it will require more vessels linking our producer and consumer centres directly and not overly relying on Cook Strait for inter- island freight.

“Currently 2.5 million tonnes of domestic freight cross Cook Strait on trucks each year, with just 1 million tonnes moved on all ships on the rest of the coast.

“This situation is untenable in terms of the mounting environmental damage, economic consequences and negative impacts on roads and communities.”

He said there was also a need to develop hub-and-spoke cargo feeder networks around the coast to meet the trend of overseas ships getting bigger and visiting fewer ports less often.

“Our new vessel is equipped to meet this trend, as it uses existing port container cranes to load and unload all types of containers.

“Provided its service is not constrained by further subsidies to prop up competing land transport modes, we believe it will be the forerunner of more coastal vessels to come.”

The ‘Spirit of Endurance’, built in China this year, has a 17-knots service speed and a Gross Tonnage of 7,464 tonnes.

The vessel trebles Pacifica’s container carrying capacity when added to the ship ‘Spirit of Resolution’, which operates between Lyttelton, Nelson, New Plymouth and Auckland’s Onehunga port each week.


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