Port Nelson getting ready to handle larger ships


Drilling of the seabed in and around Port Nelson is due to begin today, in preparation for the port to handle larger ships.

State Highway 6 at Rocks Rd, near Port Nelson.

State Highway 6 at Rocks Rd, near Port Nelson. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

The port said contractors will be undertaking drilling investigations for geotechnical purposes, at the port’s entrance known as The Cut, and inside the harbour to the port’s northern wharves.

The port company’s environmental officer said the explorative drilling will investigate to a depth of 10 metres, and aimed to provide analysis of the seabed composition.

Kelly Leonard said it was needed before the company planned to dredge areas of the shipping channel, and before work began to extend the port’s main wharf.

Over the last three years the number of containers handled at Port Nelson has grown by over 25 percent, the amount of vessel visits has risen by 7.5 percent, and the size of the ships calling had increased too.

Almost 900 vessels visited the port last year.

Ms Leonard said it needed to prepare for larger vessels and their safe navigation. She said the plan was to dredge three new areas near the current channel, to increase the safety margins for larger vessels and expand the safe operating windows in terms of weather.

The works proposed would include giving vessels a simpler line of approach, as well as increasing the scope for turning vessels inside the lee of Haulashore Island, which offered some protection from the wind, rather than turning them in the area near the wharf, called the “swing basin”.

“In keeping with having the ability to accommodate bigger ships, and tying-in with the purchase of the new tug and redevelopment of Main Wharf North, concepts are now also being drawn up to create a more ideal approach and access to the port,” Ms Leonard said in the port company’s newsletter RePort.

She said the port was currently limited in its capacity to safely bring in larger vessels, and in order to accommodate the requests of shipping lines already calling at Nelson, the port company was currently doing initial scoping ahead of applying for resource consent to do the dredging.

The work that started today was being done by a drill rig attached to a barge, and was expected to operate for up to two weeks, subject to weather conditions

Ms Leonard said if the consent was granted the proposed work would be beneath high water, so there would be no visible changes. That included the areas adjacent to the Boulder Bank and Haulashore Island.

The port entrance known as The Cut separated the naturally formed Boulder Bank from Haulashore Island. The Cut was artificially created in the early 1900s as a shipping channel. It was originally 61 metres wide, and is now 150 metres wide and dredged every six months to maintain a 10-metre depth.

Ms Leonard said the reality was that larger ships were now coming to New Zealand, and Nelson would be limited in its ability to export produce if it was restricted to receiving on smaller ships.

“That adds time and costs for our regional exporters to then have their produce moved to larger vessels elsewhere, so it’s important we continue to serve the region as best we can and don’t get left behind.”

Pacifica Shipping to upgrade with larger vessel

Wednesday, 7 August 2019, 8:29 pm
Press Release: Swire Shipping

Increased tonnage to meet rising coastal and international transhipment demand

New Zealand – Pacifica Shipping today confirmed that it has acquired a larger 1700 teu vessel for deployment on its premium coastal shipping service in New Zealand. The MV Moana Chief – which is expected to commence operations formally in September 2019 – will meet growing domestic and international transhipping cargo demand. Pacifica was acquired by The China Navigation Company (CNCo) – parent of Swire Shipping – in 2014.

Swire has been a long-term and active participant in New Zealand’s maritime and transport industry. The first Swire vessel called to New Zealand some 130 years ago. Today, Swire Shipping and Swire Bulk currently operate multiple liner and bulk vessels per month, connecting New Zealand to Australia, Asia, North America, Papua New Guinea, Pacific Islands and the rest of the world. For more information, please visit https://www.swirecnco.com

Brodie Stevens, Country Manager, Swire New Zealand, said: “With the acquisition and an increase in tonnage from 1,100 to 1,700 teu, we strongly believe Pacifica will be in a good position to meet rising domestic cargo and transhipment demand. We want to expand the range of valuable domestic transport solutions currently already provided by Pacifica, and this will enable us to do so. Coastal shipping in New Zealand continues to play an important part in the country’s domestic economy. It is also highly complementary with road and rail networks.”

According to a report by Deloitte in 2016, 236 million tonnes of freight are moved within New Zealand annually. The size of container ships has been increasing. Coastal shipping will continue to play a role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions per container, and will also be a factor in New Zealand manufacturers’ decarbonisation of their supply chains.

Additionally, New Zealand’s domestic freight volumes are forecast to more than double by 2040, as stated in The National Freight Demand Study 2008, and confirmed again in the NFDS update, completed in 2014 – “Even with massive investment in land transport this increase could not be accommodated by road and rail alone. By growing coastal shipping, New Zealand can take a load off the other transport modes and contribute to a more efficient land transport network. By comparison, in Japan, a country with a similar geography, more than 30% of freight is carried by sea.”

Details of the acquisition are confidential.