Aratere returning to NZ

The troubled Interislander ferry Aratere is on its way back to New Zealand following repairs in Singapore.

The ferry's propeller came off in Cook Strait in November, and it has been out of action ever since.

The Aratere left Singapore overnight, and is now on its way back to Wellington, via a refuel stop in Gladstone, Australia.

Its expected arrival date will be weather dependent, KiwiRail said, with a more specific date released as it neared New Zealand.

The ferry has been undergoing repairs in Singapore since February, following a propeller shaft failure. While it was in the dry dock, a full two-year maintenance check was also carried out, KiwiRail said.

"Over the past two weeks she has also undergone a series of rigorous sea trials off the Singapore coast. These identified some commissioning issues with the overhauled steering gear, all of which have been successfully rectified by the manufacturer's service representative," the company said in a statement this morning.

Other equipment, including propellers, propeller shafts, steering gear, rudders, gearboxes, motors, bearings and stabilisers were also upgraded or replaced.

On arrival to Wellington the Aratere will undergo final commissioning tests, and will initially be on a reduced sailing, freight-only schedule.

- by Patrice Dougan of APNZ

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