Largest ship to ever visit Timaru

27/5/19

A monstrous container ship’s brief visit to Timaru was a test run that could result in other ships of a similar size using the port.

The Rio de Janeiro, which docked about 11pm on Sunday and left at 9.40am Monday for Dunedin, is the largest vessel to ever enter at the port, being 286.5 metres long, 40m wide and capable of carrying nearly 6000 containers.

PrimePort chief executive Phil Melhopt said the Rio’s berthing in Timaru was a significant first step in an approval process for the bigger ships.

Port of Timaru tugs pull the giant Rio de Janeiro container ship away from the wharf for its departure.
JOHN BISSET/STUFFPort of Timaru tugs pull the giant Rio de Janeiro container ship away from the wharf for its departure.

“This will give us the option commercially to welcome vessels of similar size specifically to berth in Timaru.”

Melhopt said that while he had not received a formal debrief from the harbourmaster, there had been no issues with the ship’s arrival, docking and stay in Timaru.

The giant container ship, Rio de Janeiro, prepares to leave the Port of Timaru.
JOHN BISSET/STUFFThe giant container ship, Rio de Janeiro, prepares to leave the Port of Timaru.

“It is too early to say, but this is part of a trial which the Canterbury harbourmaster is overseeing.”

He said once approved, the berthing of larger sized vessels would give the port a greater flexibility in its operations. 

“This will prove to be another feather in our cap.”

Onlookers watch the Rio de Janeiro container ship arrive in the Port of Timaru.
1 OF 11JOHN BISSET/STUFFOnlookers watch the Rio de Janeiro container ship arrive in the Port of Timaru.

Melhopt agreed that last year’s $2.5 million project to widen the port’s inner breakwater entrance from 90m to 140m to allow for easier access for bigger vessels had played a significant role in getting the Rio de Janeiro in port, along with the $8m purchase of the new tug Hinewai which almost doubles the size of the vessels it can manoeuvre. The breakwater project, which removed a rock wall and dug out the approach at the entrance of the harbour, ended early in 2019.

“We acknowledge the hard work that was put in by the port’s crew and staff in making this happen,” Melhopt said.

When fully laden, the Rio de Janeiro weighs around 80,000 tonnes and manoeuvring the vessel into the port required the work of three tugs, the Aoraki, Te Mariu and the Hinewai.

Sunrise over the Port of Timaru sheds light on the Rio de Janeiro container ship, the largest vessel to ever berth in the port.
JOHN BISSET/STUFFSunrise over the Port of Timaru sheds light on the Rio de Janeiro container ship, the largest vessel to ever berth in the port.

The Singapore–flagged ship was the biggest ever container ship to visit the Port of Lyttelton and Port Chalmers (Dunedin) in October 2018.

The Rio was a new class of ship in 2018 that carried about 1000 to 1500 more containers than its predecessors.

The ship’s colours are that of Hamburg Sud, the shipping line that Maersk bought in 2018.

The Rio De Janeiro arrives under darkness into the Port of Timaru.
JOHN BISSET/STUFFThe Rio De Janeiro arrives under darkness into the Port of Timaru.

The Rio de Janeiro, which docked about 11pm on Sunday and left at 9.40am Monday for Dunedin, is the largest vessel to ever enter at the port, being 286.5 metres long, 40m wide and capable of carrying nearly 6000 containers.

PrimePort chief executive Phil Melhopt said the Rio’s berthing in Timaru was a significant first step in an approval process for the bigger ships.

Melhopt said that while he had not received a formal debrief from the harbourmaster, there had been no issues with the ship’s arrival, docking and stay in Timaru.

He said once approved, the berthing of larger sized vessels would give the port a greater flexibility in its operations.

“This will prove to be another feather in our cap.”

“We acknowledge the hard work that was put in by the port’s crew and staff in making this happen,” Melhopt said.

When fully laden, the Rio de Janeiro weighs around 80,000 tonnes and manoeuvring the vessel into the port required the work of three tugs, the Aoraki, Te Mariu and the Hinewai.

The Rio was a new class of ship in 2018 that carried about 1000 to 1500 more containers than its predecessors.

The ship’s colours are that of Hamburg Sud, the shipping line that Maersk bought in 2018.