Crippled ship in port for repairs

The German-built container ship Med is safely back in the Port of Tauranga for repairs after it was hit with major steering problems on Monday as it passed Mayor Island.

Port operations manager Phil Julian said two tugs, the Sir Robert and Te Matua, were sent out as a precautionary measure to where Med had been anchored near the A Beacon, two nautical miles from the entrance to the harbour.

They were not needed because the ship's propulsion and steering systems worked and the tugs did what they normally do to assist ships into their berths.

Mr Julian understood the temporary repairs to the steering took most of the day to sort out after Med struck problems after leaving the port at 5.30am on Monday. It then anchored off A Beacon to wait for a berth.

He assumed the parts for the permanent repairs would have to come from overseas, with the work to be carried out by Tauranga engineers.

Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre New Zealand spokesman Michael Flyger said Maritime officials would board the vessel and undertake an inspection to determine exactly what happened to the steering system, what repairs were required and, once the repairs were completed, to ensure the ship did not pose any risk when it left the port.

The 34,000 tonne ship built in 2003 berthed at the Port of Tauranga at 3.46pm yesterday, nearly three-quarters of an hour after the escort began from near A Beacon off Mauao.

Once the repairs were completed, expected to be by next Tuesday, the Med would resume its voyage to Noumea.

- John Cousins and Sandra Conchie of the Bay of Plenty Times

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