Industry cooperation averts Chathams diesel drought

Safe Seas Clean Seas Issue 50, June 2016

A potentially disastrous diesel drought on the Chatham Islands has been averted through a cooperative effort by transport industry operators and Maritime NZ.

Diesel supplies destined for the Chathams were delayed when the cargo vessel Southern Tiare lost power off Banks Peninsula in early March, and had to be towed to Lyttelton.

Given the likely timeframe for repairs, the lack of fuel would have spelled disaster for the Chathams’ fishing industry. A replacement vessel, Coastal Bulk Shipping’s Anatoki, was called into service, but it required a combined effort to make the delivery happen.

Empty 6.1 metre diesel containers had to be shipped from Auckland to Lyttelton, and then transferred to Timaru, where loading took place.

“The whole exercise of getting the diesel to the Chathams has attracted a lot of goodwill and input along the transport chain,” says Doug Smith, general manager of Coastal Bulk Shipping.

“It’s been a great cooperative effort – from Pacifica Shipping moving the empty containers from Auckland to Lyttelton, Hilton Haulage then moving them to Timaru and providing space in their yard to load them, Stark Brothers in Lyttelton assisting with a couple of their ISO tanks and providing air pumps and hoses, Timaru Container Terminal working with us to receive the containers and load them, and Maritime NZ providing an exemption for the Anatoki to carry diesel.

“It restores the faith a little bit that we are working in an industry that can all paddle in the same direction when required,” Doug says.

Maritime NZ general manager Maritime Standards, Sharyn Forsyth, says safety remained the priority when putting plans in place to enable to diesel delivery to happen.

“An exemption was issued to the Anatoki only after Maritime NZ was satisfied that this voyage, with this cargo, could be completed safely,” she says.

“And that emphasis on safe operating procedures was also in evidence as the containers were loaded in Timaru – when a change in the loading plan was approved after advice from experts.”

It was originally proposed to carry the containers stowed fore and aft on the basis that the contents would be discharged through a port at the bottom end of container.

But advice from Hilton Haulage and SGS Timaru was that the simplest way to discharge the diesel from the containers was via a hose through a port on the top side, Doug says.

“This allowed the containers to be stowed athwartships – the safest option, as they slot neatly in the 6.3m wide hold – and it also reduced the chance of a hose blowing off the bottom port while pumping,” Doug says.

Sharyn says the change to the approved loading plan was well managed.

“It was a good example of industry using its expertise to ensure that health and safety was managed in the most appropriate way.”

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