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New Zealand Ferry Loses Trailers In Rough Seas

By MarEx 2016-07-18 21:17:34

On Monday, the ro/ro ferry between Picton and Wellington, New Zealand lost two reefer trailers of chilled pork over the side in 15-foot seas. 

The Straitsman was operating its normal route across Cook Strait when gale-force winds whipped up, and as seas rose and rolling increased, passengers said that many on board became seasick and a clatter of utensils falling could be heard in the galley. Passenger Jordan Matchitt said that he saw the B-train trailer unit swaying on the weather deck; without further warning, its lashings gave way and it slid through the deck rail and over the side. Matchitt captured the moment on video. 

"All of a sudden, when we started turning, one big wave hit us side-on, then we heard a big snap, looked back, and the truck had started to move and had slid toward the barrier," he told New Zealand's Newstalk. "The ship] went back down to the other side of the waves, then slid back, hit another wave, then the trailer went off through the barrier, and it ripped the other trailer and truck off and snapped the second chain."

While no truck was attached to the trailers, NZ's Stuff reports that the vessel's specialized loading tractor (or mini tug) was hooked up to the unit and was pulled over. 

Maritime authorities are still investigating the accident. As a precaution, Maritime NZ put out a temporary warning for the strait to alert marine traffic to the possibility of a hazard to navigation, but a spokesman says that the agency believes the trailers have sunk. "We don't anticipate any environmental issues – but any pork found on the shore should not be consumed," the spokesman warned. 

The operator, Strait Shipping, said that this was the first incident of its kind in over two decades of operation, and it would conduct a thorough review to prevent it from happening again.