North Taranaki Midweek
Port’s oldest tug sails away
Port Taranaki’s oldest tug has set off for a new life in the sun – although it will have to earn its keep.
Kupe, which was built in 1971 and retired from service in 2018, has been sold to a Vanuatu commercial diving business whose work primarily involves vessel salvage.
The tug was built for the Port of Wellington after the 1968 Wahine tragedy, in which the steampowered tugs of the time proved inadequate.
Kupe, which can pull 30 tonnes, was brought to Port Taranaki in 2009 and was involved in more than 1000 shipping movements.
‘‘Kupe has been a great and valued servant of Port Taranaki,’’ head of operations Captain Ashley McDonald said.
‘‘However, with parts and spares increasingly difficult to obtain for servicing and to maintain her classification, unfortunately she was getting beyond economical repair for our needs.’’
New owner Raoul Monthouel, who has operated Seaworks Vanuatu for 12 years, said Kupe would be used in the six-strong company’s vessel salvage operations.
‘‘The vessel fleets in Vanuatu are old and every year a number are grounded or wrecked because of cyclones, so there is a lot of salvage work available.
‘‘We have been renting a second vessel for our work, but I have wanted a second of our own.’’
Monthouel, his 16-year-old son Alan, and a New Zealand crew left on Kupe for Vanuatu on Tuesday last week.
Port Taranaki would not reveal how much Kupe sold for, citing ‘‘commercial sensitivity’’.