A container ship which lost power while navigating Otago
Harbour was pulled into deeper water by a tug - having had a
near miss with the shipping channel's sandbank.
In April, the 223m-long container ship Maersk Batur lost all
power shortly after departing Port Chalmers, which prompted
Port Otago's tugs Otago and Rangi to return to the ship and
tow it back into deeper water.
The incident was, by regulation, reported by Port Otago to
Maritime New Zealand (MNZ), the Transport Accident
Investigation Commission (TAIC) and Otago's harbour master.
MNZ has, since February, suspended publishing its monthly
incident summaries, as it considers privacy issues.
The Otago Harbour near miss came to light after it was
disclosed in parliamentary question time, when Transport
Minister Gerry Brownlee released reports of 50 ship-related
collisions, or near misses, to Green Party MP Gareth Hughes.
Mr Hughes was criticising the Government for playing down
recent shipping incidents in the wake of the 236m container
ship Rena grounding, the subsequent oil clean-up and removal
of the wreck from Astrolabe Reef, off Tauranga.
Included in the reports was a five-minute grounding of a 177m
Singaporean cargo ship off New Plymouth's coast in May, which
the master had not reported until five days after the
Maersk Batur was reported as having had ''possible contact''
with sand at the edge of the channel in Otago Harbour.
Maersk NZ operations manager Stuart Jennings said he
understood there had been a ''fuel flow failure'' aboard
Maersk Batur while it was in the channel and the engine ''cut
out'', leading to the vessel's master dropping anchor and
restarting the engine, all of which had taken only a ''short
time'', he said.
''There were safety protocols of the port and ship in place
which were enacted ... It was concluded there was no
The Singapore-registered 223m-long, 43,000 tonne-plus Maersk
Batur is a regular visitor to Port Chalmers, and global
shipping giant Maersk is the port's largest customer.
Port Otago chief executive Geoff Plunket said Port Otago's
100% owner, the Otago Regional Council, had been informed
after the mandatory reporting to MNZ, the TAIC and Otago's
None of the agencies had undertaken a formal investigation.
Port Otago's own investigation was completed and found ''no
issues'' for the port company, he said. He declined to
release the findings, saying further comment had to come from
The tugs Otago and Rangi accompanied Maersk Batur when it
departed Port Chalmers, and they left the vessel several
hundred metres from the port, as planned, Mr Plunket said.
However, they were called back and were ''immediately able to
assist'' in towing Maersk Batur to deeper water.
The MNZ incident report said the ship, which had a Port Otago
pilot on board, suffered ''a temporary power failure'',
causing its bow to turn towards the channel edge, but with a
tug's assistance the ship was moved to ''safe water''.
''The master of the ship reported possible contact of [the]
ship's bow with [the] soft sand edge of the channel,'' MNZ
The cause was reported as a ''fuel flow meter'' issue, which
caused the main engine and generator to become stuck.
Mr Plunket said there had been ''no serious incidents'' with
vessels, such as a navigational marker or the channel being
struck, in Otago Harbour in the past two years MNZ yesterday
said it carried out a ''port state control'' inspection of
Maersk Batur in Tauranga and a diver inspected the vessel in
Auckland. No damage was found.