Mammoth task to scrap decaying ship
It was the job no one wanted.
But William Mulholland thought he’d give his Irish luck a try.
The container ship Atlantic Trader has been sitting idle at Hamer St wharf in Westhaven for seven years, slowly rusting away.
Two months after starting work to demolish it, Mr Mulholland and his crew of five are on target to finish by the end of May.
Since January, Mr Mulholland has been cutting the ship into pieces of steel and dismantling the engine.
He says it’s not a straightforward job, which is why no one has offered to do it until now.
“A lot of people thought I was completely mad. They’re not used to that sort of scale demolition.”
But his experience running a scrap metal yard in Ireland meant Mr Mulholland had the expertise to take the huge boat apart.
“No one knew how to do it. I don’t find it difficult though.”
He says environmental hazards are a major risk.
Although fuel and oil aboard the ship are disposed of before demolition, there are always residual substances such as paint, lead and asbestos which have to be disposed of carefully.
Ports of Auckland harbour master John Lee-Richards says in this case, it is safer to demolish the ship than to leave it moored.
“All I can think is that one day a hole is going to rust through and then it’s going to sink and become a wreck and that’s the last thing we want.”
He says Ports of Auckland are monitoring the operation closely.
“We won’t tolerate any form of environmental pollution in the coastal area.”
Mr Mulholland says he is doing everything he can to reduce the hazards.
After the Atlantic Trader was bought by a farmer in 2001 to move cattle between the North and South Islands, it was detained by Maritime New Zealand with a list of more than 50 deficiencies.
It has sat in the berth outside Titan Marine Engineering on Hamer St ever since.
Mr Lee-Richards says he is “extremely pleased” it is finally being demolished.
He says as well as rusting, the ship has caused problems for Titan Marine as it is blocking their berth.
Mr Mulholland says he has a good team working on the ship and so far everything has gone “pretty much to plan”.
Big job: William Mulholland is in charge of the ships demolition.
Time to go: The Atlantic Trade is finally being demolished.
Wasting away: The ship has sat in the harbour for seven years, slowly rusting away.
Hard at work: Nicola Mulholland is part of the team taking the Atlantic Trader apart.