New Zealand Restricts Boxship Sailing After Third Breakdown in a Year

Containership broken down Wellington
Shiling anchored after losing power (photo by Daran Ponter, Greater Wellington Regional Councillor)

Published Apr 17, 2023 5:50 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Regional Harbourmaster for Wellington, New Zealand issued a direction for a problem-plagued containership after it experienced its third power outage in the harbor in less than 12 months. Harbourmaster Grant Nadler said he was acting in the interest of ensuring maritime safety while telling local media the port was not happy after the same ship blacked out yet again while maneuvering to depart the port on April 14.

“The intention of this Direction is to provide support to the ship until it is considered the engine is reliable and that she can safely sail from the restricted channel and clear the harbor approaches,” wrote Nadler in the order released on April 16. Maritime New Zealand imposed conditions on the vessel that must be fulfilled before the ship can leave the port and remain in effect until it can safely clear the harbor approaches.

Initially, port officials said Friday’s incident was okay as weather and tidal conditions had been good and the ship came to a stop without any significant problems. However, as more details came to light, local elected officials started to ask when their luck would run out and a serious incident could occur with the problematic ship.

The Shiling, a 66,500 dwt containership built in 2005, was departing on April 14 on the return leg of a voyage that started in Singapore on March 25 and saw the ship sail first to Auckland and then Wellington. Registered in Singapore, the 18-year-old ship is 964 feet long with a capacity of 5,028 TEU. The ship was sold in 2020 with its current management in Singapore and according to the Equasis database while it has a long history of deficient inspections for over a decade it has not been detained since 2014.

Outbound on April 14 she was in the main shipping channel when the ship reported losing power. She drifted out of the main channel, crossing a sandbar, before she dropped both anchors. Two harbor tugs came to her assistance and later in the day, she was moved back to the dock.



Port officials point out that the weather was calm and it was daylight. In addition, since the blackout came two hours after high tide there had been no clearance issues. Channel traffic was restricted to a single ship at a time as a precaution but port officials said traffic was light so it was not causing any delays.

Then it was reported the Shiling had also had a brief engine stoppage on February 11 in Wellington Harbor. She also suffered an engine failure on July 4, 2022.

The new order restricts the ship to remain at the dock until repairs are completed preventing her from even moving to the anchorage. Further, she can only depart in daylight between 0700 and 1500, provided the wind speed in the harbor is no more than 15 knots, and the swell a maximum of two meters (6.5 feet). At least one tug is ordered to also be on stand-by and accompany her as far as Steeple Rock and to remain there until the pilot disembarks. 

The Shiling is also ordered to undertake an engine test when it leaves the dock before departing. She needs to complete at least one full turn in the northern part of the harbor. The maneuvering needs to be to the pilot’s satisfaction before the ship can head out of the channel.

“We’re just trying to help it get out of the harbor safely and if there are any complications, to ensure we can look after it, get it back alongside, and get those issues sorted,” Nalder told the New Zealand Herald.

Nalder said that while the Shiling has not had a serious incident in a New Zealand port they are concerned that it has had yet another engine failure. The port and Maritime New Zealand report they are looking very carefully at the ship.