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Major companies had their own naming systems in the past, and still do, but long gone are the days when British liner companies trading to this country used the names of British counties, ports and cities throughout the world and, along with New Zealand interests, Maori names.
All such names have passed into history, but are not entirely forgotten.
Today, most of the regular callers are container ships with names that identify them as being operated by Hamburg-Sud, Maersk and the Mediterranean Shipping Company.
And, in the cruise-ship season we see the return of vessels whose names and operators are now very familiar here.
But since last month there has been a run of newcomers and second-time visitors whose names offer plenty of variety.
Those that have made more than one visit include the Rainbow Star, and Bulktec and this week Nord Houston and White Sea.
A second-time visitor, the NYK-operated Rainbow Star is the first tanker from an Australian port to have called here for some time.
In the past, there were regular calls by tankers from the BP refinery at Kwinana (Western Australia), the Caltex facility at Kurnell and Shell's refinery at Geelong.
Bulktec (2009) and Nord Houston (2011) are both Chinese-built vessels. Last week, the former loaded logs at Port Chalmers.
Nord Houston (third visit yesterday) will also discharge there for the second time and on earlier calls loaded logs at Beach St.
Reederei NSB's White Sea calls for the third time this week on charter to MSC and employed in the Capricorn service.
At the beginning of this month Mare Phoenicium, operating on the same run, made its first visit.
This vessel was the first from the fleet of Hansa Mare, of Bremen, to call here.
In a few days' time Mare Brittanicium, also on charter to MSC, is due here.
Both are 40,306gt, 4036TEU vessels built by Hyundai at Ulsan, with the earlier visitor being the first of a class of six.
Mare Brittanicium, the fifth to be built, has been in service since December 2000.
Since then, it has been chartered out under the names YM Wilmington, AP Trade Freda,L Panama, Kaohsuing and APL Kaohsuing.
First time visitors to the export log trade have turned up an interesting mix of names.
DL Lilac, loaded at Beach St, Spinnaker SW at Dunedin and Port Chalmers, and this evening Poavosa Wisdom VIII is due at Beach St.
Later in the week SFLTrent will arrive at Leith wharf, then later move down to Beach St.
All four fly the flag of Panama and are new ships built in China and Japan that only entered service in the past four months.
DL Lilac owned by the Promy 5 Corporation, is part of the fleet of the DL Shipping Company, of Busan. Another unit of this fleet, the 29,990gt tanker DL Cosmos, built in 2007, visited Dunedin on November 12, 2010.
The 23,494gt log ship was handed over from the Samjin yard at Weihai on November 20, 2012.
It is a sister ship to earlier visitors, TPC's Gisborne, Lyttelton and Samjin.
SFLTrent, owned by a Hong Kong company of the same name, is a 22,636gt vessel built by the Jiangsu Yangzijiang yard. The oldest of the four logs ships, it has been in service since January 4, 2012.
The two ships are owned by companies from Taipei.
Spinnaker SW serves Spinnaker Pescadores S.A. and is a standard 19,836gt vessel delivered by the Hakodate Dockyard on November 15, 2012.
Poavosa Wisdom VIII hails from the fleet of the Wisdom Line S.A., part of Taiwan's largest bulk carrier operator the Hui Yang group established in 1999.
Another of the Imabari standard design now well-known in this harbour, it is a brand new 17,027gt vessel that was completed by the I-S shipyard as recently as January 29.