Listing Bulk Iron Sand Carrier Corrected

The 140,000-ton, 275-meter bulk iron sand carrier Taharoa Express began listing at 2:30 am Friday, June 22, after a load of iron sand shifted in rough water about 42 nautical miles off the coast of Taranaki, southwest of Cape Edgemont, in New Zealand. Shortly after, it was reported that the vessel, which does regular cargo transport between New Zealand and Japan and China, was intact and all 25 crew members were safe. Listing at 18 degrees, the carrier made its slow progress in the stormy conditions to anchor in Tasman Bay near Nelson in the early evening of that same Friday. The vessel was finally put “back on even keel” on July 4, according to a Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) press release.

The over a week-long process of correcting the carrier’s list mainly involved pumping seawater into the ship’s tanks. This was an extremely large operation that required even two more pumps to be brought in last Monday, June 25, to assist in the job. After the stormy weather subsided during the first weekend that the ship was anchored in Tasman Bay, a safety inspector was able to make it on board the carrier and remained there with the 25 crewmembers who were not been able to leave the listing ship due to MNZ’s safety concerns.

The MNZ press release describes the vessel’s current situation and the organization’s future stipulations for it: “MNZ’s key condition is that the remaining iron sand cargo must now be levelled off as much as possible to ensure that the least amount of counter-ballast is required to keep the vessel upright. The ship will not move until MNZ is satisfied that this has been done and it is safe for it to depart. In the meantime, diggers will be flown via helicopter out to the vessel to help even up the cargo, which may take a few days. The crew are also today continuing to pump off excess fresh water used to help load the iron sand into the cargo holds, which is a normal part of loading operations. Damage to some of the vessel’s electrical systems caused by fresh water leaking during loading will also need to be repaired before it can depart.”

The Taharoa Express and her crew will not be allowed to depart until MNZ is “is satisfied that the ship is safe.” Once that determination is made, the ship will return to Port Taharoa to finish loading. Though the events that caused the ship to list were weather-related, and thus the incident is not considered an accident and no one is at fault, the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) will still be investigating how exactly the incident occurred.