Fullers backs decision not to operate in unsafe conditions
28 January 2020
Fullers backs its decision not to operate in unsafe conditions, calling for a restriction to cruise ship movements in the Ferry Basin after 6am
Fullers360 CEO Mike Horne says the company will not compromise on the health and safety of its customers and people, in response to criticism for the decision to cancel services when cruise ships are thrusting in the harbour.
“It is fundamental for the safety of our customers and staff that we have a standard operating procedure that restricts ferry movements in and out of the basin while cruise ships are thrusting and while the water is still turbulent due to cruise ship berthing. Ferry movements during this time can result in extreme and unpredictable movement of the vessel which puts our customers and our staff at risk.”
Fullers360 has released video footage demonstrating the unpredictable and potentially damaging effect of ‘wash’ from cruise ship thrusters.
“Cruise ships are getting bigger and, as a result, their thrusting power is increasing. The new breakwater constructed near Queens Wharf has materially changed tidal wave flow and there are 40 metres of construction activity along Queens Wharf that is reducing navigable water space,” says Horne.
He says that Fullers360 is supportive of the initiative requested by the Mayor for a working group to be formed to find a solution to cruise ship movements impacting ferry services.
“Like ferry transport, the cruise ship industry is critical to Auckland’s economy and as we share the water space, it is imperative we find a solution that caters for both of our high-value sectors without compromising our stringent health and safety standards.
“Our primary focus is the safety of our passengers and our crew. The expectation that we should be able to drive our ferries while wake and thrust from a cruise ship is still active, is unacceptable. If one of our ferries was to drive through this wake and the thrust from a cruise ship was to impact another vessel or structure, or suffer some sort of violent movement, the results could be catastrophic.”
Fullers360, along with other parties at the meeting on Wednesday, has proposed an immediate solution of restricting ship movements in the Ferry Basin to Princes wharf to 6am (currently the restriction is 7.30am) to ensure there is no conflict between Auckland ferry users and cruise ships.
“The limited water space means that without restricting cruise ships into the harbour no later than 6am, disruption will continue for the early morning ferry passengers. The cruise ship arrival times published by Ports of Auckland refer to the mooring time of the vessel at the pilot buoy off Rangitoto, not to the times that they are moving and berthing in the ferry basin. It is the movement in the basin that is unpredictable and disruptive to ferry sailings.”
He says that Fullers 360 has made a number of efforts to signal these issues over the past 18 months, in attempt to collaborate and find a solution.
As a matter of safety, Fullers360 has altered its Standard Operating Procedures for all of Fullers360 ferries over the last 12-18 months to reflect the changing operating environment. These have been designed based on a risk assessment exercise undertaken, incorporating guidance and learnings from the pre-construction risk group, and in compliance with maritime law.
Fullers360 has commissioned Sydney-based Thompson-Clark Shipping to do an independent review of the operating environment and to assess Fullers360’s decision not to operate while cruise ships are thrusting.
“Our decision not to operate when cruise ships are thrusting is based on protecting our customers and protecting our people. We welcome a third-party review of this, to strengthen our position on operating services in this environment,” says Horne.