'Thumping' ships mean sleepless nights for some in Port Chalmers

Rio de Janiero was the first Rio-class container ship to visit Port Chalmers, last October....
Rio de Janiero was the first Rio-class container ship to visit Port Chalmers, last October. Unfortunately, its noisy generators are also fitted in its five sister ships.PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
The new Rio-class container vessels visiting Port Chalmers weekly are causing sleepless nights for some residents, because of large, noisy generators aboard the bigger ships.

Kevin Winders
Kevin Winders
The issue has prompted the port company to begin noise assessments at its various wharves and look for ways to mitigate the problem.

Port Otago chief executive Kevin Winders said there had been "several complaints" since the arrival of the Rio-class ships used by shipping giant Maersk - one of the six sister ships now visits every weekend - on rotation.

"Depending on your elevation, you really feel a thumping sound from the generators," Mr Winders said.

Maersk's smaller, L-class vessels have been phased out in preferance to the Rio-class, which can carry up to 5200 TEUs (20 foot equivalent units), as opposed to 4500, the maiden call having been in late-October.

They carry a larger percentage of refrigerated containers, between 1800 and 2000, of the total 5200 TEUs aboard and require more energy.

The Rio-ships use the two large generators to keep the refrigerated containers cold; the 11MW of power needed being the equivalent of that used for 750 homes.

Mr Winders said "plugging into the national grid" was not an option without major infrastructure upgrades, starting with services in Dunedin city.

In a community paper message to Port Chalmers' households, Mr Winders said he was both "surprised and disappointed" with the noisier Rio-class ships, given they were a decade newer than their predecessors.

"We hoped the first one was the exception, but as each new [Rio] ship arrived they were similar to the first Rio," he said.

A starting point for noise mitigation was to berth the vessels further up the wharf, with their sterns facing landward, towards Port Chalmers.

"Please bear with us as we work through this period," he said.

He said still or northerly winds during summer had not helped the problem, and expected a return to southerlies to change the noise impact.

Another shipping line's vessel, CGM Coral had to be berthed bow-on to Port Chalmers last week, because its port-side gangway was broken.

Mr Winders said while it was noisy for people in Careys Bay, he hoped the way it had to be berthed would be an exception.


Guess what people, just like people who live next to an airport, you live in a place which sole reason for being is to handle ships. And those ships operate 24 / 7 all year round. I suppose it is the same geniuses who are complaining that trucks run through town.
If you want to live in a quiet space, don't live across the road from a port of any type. If you do, get used to the noise.
The Ports Otago shouldn't be contemplating mitigation measures, people living there should. Or they should move.

Kind of like the house owner above a tunnel on a military base, the tunnel was built by the US in the 1930-40s used daily in excellent condition, the owner purchased his house in the 2000's and later complained expected to get some coin

I'd say most longstanding residents are pretty accustomed to the sound most ships usually make, especially the likes of these GIANT cruise ships and such that knock about most weeks. Most likely not even an issue of "oh it's this much bigger or this much louder" rather frequency specific. Sound does work like that, dog whistles are an example of the same phenomenon. Or that bogan's tappy Galant high-idling outside your neighbour's place as he waits for the daughter.

There were experiments into the infamous low-frequency "Brown note" that was apparently determined to make people involuntarily defecate, though I think it was later determined to be a factor beyond simply the frequency causing the sartorial slayings. In any event I don't think Port's infrastructure could take it.

That recent ship was clearly heard here at Aramoana all night. Not Good enough. Doi