On the waterfront: Former ferry ready for last run

Last week, weather conditions again disrupted the schedules of ferries on the Wellington-Picton route.

But for one vessel that would have faced similar conditions in its younger days, Alang, in India, is to be its final destination.

For it was reported that MBRS Lines, of Manila, had sold Mary the Queen and Virgin Mary to Indian shipbreakers for an en bloc deal worth $US4.7 million. Mary the Queen, completed at Troon in June 1972 by the Ailsa Shipbuilding Company, served as the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company's Mona's Queen until 1995.

Virgin Mary, which has carried this name since 1999, was formerly the Interisland Line's Aratika.

The fourth rail ferry to be built for the service, it was also the first to be built by a foreign yard.

Aramoana came from the Dumbarton yard of Wm Denny and Bros, in 1962; Aranui from Vickers Ltd, Newcastle, in 1966; and, in 1972, Arahanga from the Clydebank division of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Ltd.

The order for Aratika was placed with the Dubigeon-Normandie yard at Praire-au-Duc, Nantes.

Launched on November 8, 1973, the ship was handed over in April 1974.

Like Arahanga, it was also a freight-only with limited passenger facilities.

In June 1976, the 3879gt ship arrived at Hong Kong to undergo an extensive conversion by the Hong Kong United Dockyard.

This involved fitting two complete new decks, two half decks and major interior alterations.

The ship was originally designed to accommodate 10 passengers, a crew of 41 and railway wagons.

It emerged from this work as a 5592gt vessel with facilities catering for 800 day passengers, a crew of 60, garage space for about 70 cars, plus the existing train deck. Incidentally, Aratika berthed at Dunedin on October 10, 1989, for a month-long refit by Sims Engineering, which had also undertaken similar work on three of the other ferries at Dunedin.

Aranui called in May 1978, Arahanga in February 1989 and Arahura four months later.

Aratika now follows two of its former running mates on the road to the demolition sites of Alang. After being withdrawn from service in New Zealand waters, Aramoana was renamed Captain Nicolas V in 1984 before reverting to Aramoana during the same year.

In 1986, it became Najd II, and before arriving at Alang in December 1994, had been given the name Niaxco III.

Arahanga, the only one that was never renamed, arrived at Alang on June 8, 2001, from Wellington.

Aranui ended its days at the hands of Bangladeshi shipbreakers at Chittagong in November 1994.

Given the name Aranui I in 1984, it was shortened to Nui in 1985, then to its final name, Najd II, also during the same year.

Later this week, the 38,894gt, Panama-flagged woodchip carrier Forest Wave , operated by Mitsui-OSK, will make its sixth visit to Port Chalmers.

Built at the Oshima yard, the vessel entered service in February 1991 and was last here in June 1993.

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