Mam­moth task to scrap de­cay­ing ship

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Jo­ce­lyn Rein

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”.

Pho­tos: JA­SON OXENHAM

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.

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