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First-time visitor Luzon Strait, which loaded logs at Dunedin and Port Chalmers last week, ushered in the 54th year of the export log trade through this port.
Another of a standard design built by the Hakodate Dockyard the 19,796gt vessel was bought by the Pacific Basin group just over two years ago but entered service on January 12, 2007, under the name Nord Rio.
The vessel is typical of the machinery-aft bulk lumber carriers that have made visits, mostly to Port Chalmers, since the end of July, 1969.
Occasionally. a standard-type bulk carrier with no provision for carrying logs on deck has turned up.
Our export log trade commenced at Dunedin in 1959 with the departure of Marie Bakke on July 25, followed on August 13 by Celebes Maru, both for Japan.
Log ships as we know them today did not exist then, and those two pioneering visitors were conventional dry cargo motor ships.
While the Japanese one was a 4993gt vessel built in 1956, the Norwegian-owned Marie Bakke was a real gem from the past.
Completed at Odense, Denmark, in May 1926, the 4307gt veteran had a distinctive profile with its three masts, vertical stem and counter stern.
The bridge was located well forward between the No 2 and 3 holds, with the machinery space and most of the accommodation situated threequarters aft between the No 4 and No 5 holds.
The next shipment, loaded at old George St wharf, Port Chalmers by the 3668gt Shinsho Maru, left for Japan on January 25. 1962.
Then on August 2, 1969, Kyoto Maru departed to establish the export log trade that has grown into an important sector of this ports operations.
The Japanese market was the only one until May Breeze sailed on July 17, 1978, with the first shipment to China.
This was followed on August 11, 1978, by Pacific Royal departing with the first load for South Korea. And on March 28, 1997, May Star left with the first load for India.
All told there have now been close to 650 loadings.
The only other earlier loading at Dunedin was by Regent Marigold in February 1974. Since April 2010, the Leith wharf at Dunedin has been used for 32 shipments.
On 20 occasions vessels that had loaded there moved down to Port Chalmers to complete their loading schedule.
The trade has involved 398 vessels of which 22 returned under different names.
They represented 25 international shipping registers which saw vessels registered in Lithuania, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, St Vincent and The Grenadines and Vanuatu calling for the first time.
Japanese yards had by far the largest share of their building contracts.
While China built 35, South Korea 20, three came from the Philippines. Two of further interest were Calanda, here in December 2003, and AP Sveti Vlato, last September.
Respectively, they were the first and only ships to have berthed here that were built in Argentina and Vietman.
The 1753gt Marseilles-registered ice-breaker and research vessel L'Astrolabe that arrived at Birch St for a refit last week may not seem to have much in common with former Lyttelton Harbour Board dredge Te Whaka.
Berthed opposite at Rattray St wharf, it has become part of the waterfront landscape since it arrived under tow, on March 11, 1994.
However, both were built at Port Glasgow, the 324gt dredge in 1910 by Ferguson Bros (Yard No 191), and the newcomer in 1986 (Yard No 567) when the company was trading as Ferguson-Ailsa Ltd.