Ship­ping con­tain­ers flung from Napier Port

Ter­mi­nal closed un­til safety checks made

Hawke's Bay Today - - LOCAL NEWS - Ge­or­gia May Gil­bert­son

We’ve had them blow down be­fore in bad weather, but never had them go into the tide. Martin Moore, Hawke’s Bay har­bour­mas­ter

It’s not ev­ery day the wind can throw a 3.8-tonne ship­ping con­tainer into the wa­ter, but yes­ter­day’s se­vere weather event was an ex­cep­tion.

Two empty con­tain­ers were flung into the wa­ter, with one wash­ing up on the shores of Bay View, along with a nav­i­ga­tional buoy which broke its moor­ings in ex­treme swells.

The Napier Port had no op­tion but to tem­po­rar­ily shut down its con­tainer op­er­a­tion un­til the wind eased.

Con­tainer op­er­a­tions man­ager Warren Young said after be­ing hit by wind gusts of more than 45 knots (83km/h), the port closed its con­tainer ter­mi­nal as a pre­cau­tion for almost two hours.

Young said port staff are happy they have re­cov­ered one of the ship­ping con­tain­ers, but are yet to lo­cate the other.

A spokes­woman said the port was supporting the ef­forts of the har­bour­mas­ter in a plan to se­cure and re­trieve the con­tainer that had been found.

“Mem­bers of the pub­lic are ad­vised to stay well clear of the empty con- tainer. We’re yet to de­ter­mine the lo­ca­tion of the sec­ond con­tainer.

“A marine warn­ing was is­sued to ship­ping and the boat­ing com­mu­nity to no­tify of the haz­ard.”

Hawke’s Bay har­bour­mas­ter Martin Moore said it was cer­tainly un­usual for strong winds to throw ship­ping con­tain­ers into the wa­ter.

“We’ve had them blow down be­fore in bad weather, but we’ve never had them go into the tide.

“The con­tain­ers that you see in the port are full and ready for ex­port, they’re not go­ing any­where, and they’re usu­ally 25-30 tonnes. Th­ese ones were empty so it’s dif­fer­ent story.”

Moore thought it un­likely the other con­tainer would wash up along­side its com­pan­ion.

“I’m guess­ing when it blew off the wharf it’s landed on the rocks near the edge there.

“The rocks would have prob­a­bly punched a hole in it and it’s now sit­ting on the seabed be­low the port.”

Young agreed that it was the first time a con­tainer had ended up in the wa­ter be­cause of the weather.

“At 45 knots, the wind gusts hit­ting Napier Port have been ex­treme and, as far as we can re­call, we have never had a con­tainer blown into the wa­ter like this be­fore.

“Ship­ping is cur­rently on hold un­til the weather clears but, once the weather al­lows it, we’ll be us­ing our pi­lot boat’s sonar sys­tem to check the marine en­vi­ron­ment around the port to en­sure the safety of ship­ping ac­tiv­i­ties.”

Moore said high tide was about 4pm yes­ter­day which meant both the ship­ping con­tainer and buoy would sit safely on the beach un­til au­thor­i­ties shift them to­day.

Ship­ping ac­tiv­ity re­mained choppy be­cause Hawke’s Bay ex­pe­ri­enced tremen­dous swells, with the largest recorded reach­ing 8.5m.

How­ever, con­di­tions were eas­ing as the sub­trop­i­cal front moved to­wards Taupo overnight be­fore mov­ing south.

Photo / Supplied

An empty ship­ping con­tainer from Napier Port washes up on Bay View Beach after strong winds flung it into the sea.

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