New Zealand Coastal Shipping  


Tankers have been a part of the coastal shipping scene for many years. This history appeared in "New Zealand Marine News" Vol.49 No.4 in 2000 and I am grateful to the NZ Ship & Marine Society for allowing me to reproduce it here.


by Captain Michael Pryce

Until the construction of an oil refinery was completed at Marsden Point, Whangarei, in 1964, New Zealand was totally dependent on imported refined petroleum products, shipped in bulk by overseas tankers from the Persian Gulf, Singapore, Indonesia, United States or Curacao. An early attempt to cover the distribution of the oil from the main ports in smaller quantities to the smaller New Zealand coastal ports was seen in the form of the case-oil carrier Anamba (1,835 gross tons, built 1902), which arrived at Wellington on 9th April 1926 from Singapore, via Lyttelton. Anamba had been purchased by Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Co., London, in 1910, for use in carrying case-oil to small ports in the Far East, and she was based for a short time in New Zealand. British Imperial Oil Co. Ltd. (later to become Shell Oil New Zealand Ltd.) had officially opened a bulk oil installation at Miramar, Wellington, on 25th January 1926. This was designed to receive and store oil products in bulk from tankers, then transfer them into drums, tins and cases (hence, of course, the term "case-oil") for local distribution. The employment of Anamba, which, with engines amidships, looked much like any other cargo ship, was only a stop-gap measure on the New Zealand coast until a purpose-built coastal tanker arrived.

Paua - the first purpose built tanker for the NZ coast
Photo: M. Pryce Collection

This was Paua, built as Yard No.750G by Harland & Wolff Ltd. at Govan, Glasgow, at a cost of ?62,103, launched on 14th April 1927 and completed on 9th June 1927. (Because she followed the similar tankers Petronella, Paula and Agatha from the same yard [Yard Nos. 747G, 748G and 749G], she is frequently confused with them and reported as being a sister ship, but she was in fact a one-off design). Her delivery voyage began on 9th July 1927 when she left Southampton in ballast for Singapore via Suez. At Pulau Bukom, Singapore, she loaded 810 tons of petrol, then took twentyeight days to reach New Zealand, arriving at Bluff in a howling gale on 11th September 1927. She discharged at Bluff and Timaru before arriving empty at Wellington on 16th September 1927 to commence her coastal trading. Registered initially at London, her port of registry was changed to Wellington on arrival, and she became the first oil tanker to fly the New Zealand flag. Ship details were:- 1,260 gross, 472 net tons, 217.3 ft. length overall, 36.6ft. beam and 15.1ft. depth. Her twin six-cylinder oil engines were of the 4S.C.SA type and were constructed by her builders; they generated 225n.h.p., giving a service speed of 10 knots. Specially built for the coastal trade, she had nine oil compartments, consisting of three centre tanks with a capacity of 804 tons of motor spirit and three port and starboard wing tanks holding another 273 tons, making a total of 1,077 tons. The tanks were also fitted with special tank hatches so that they could also be used to carry cased oil, and there was a forehold able to stow a further 2,550 cases. For discharge of bulk oil, two cargo pumps with a capacity of 100 tons per hour each were used, and she was well equipped with derricks for handling the case oil.

Anamba was laid up for some weeks prior to Paua's arrival, but a few days after her successor arrived she was manned with a Chinese crew, and returned to trading in the Singapore area. She was laid up in Singapore in February 1931 and was broken up in 1932, having earned her niche in New Zealand's coastal oil transport story.

Paua had her tank section renewed at Hong Kong late in 1939, and the opportunity was taken to lengthen her by twentysix feet at the same time, giving her increased tonnages of 1,412 gross and 620 net. She returned to service in January 1940 and traded around most of the New Zealand coastal ports, calling at Auckland, Tauranga, Gisborne, Napier, Wanganui, New Plymouth, Wellington, Picton, Nelson, Lyttelton, Oamaru, Timaru, Dunedin and Bluff, carrying petrol and kerosene.

Paua arriving at Wellington
Photo: M. Pryce Collection

Her New Zealand registry was closed on 15th December 1950, when she was sold to Colon Shipping Co. of Hong Kong and renamed Heather, sailing from Wellington for the last time in January 1951. In 1954 she was sold to Pan Norse S.S.Co. (Wallem & Co., Hong Kong), and renamed Lucky Carrier. She went aground in heavy weather on 30th May 1956, about half a mile from Fakir Point, Akyab, (now Sittwe, Burma, now Myanmar) on a voyage from Chalna to Akyab in ballast. Refloated on 8th August 1956, she arrived at Singapore in tow on 12th December 1956. Declared a constructive total loss, she was sold and broken up in mid-1957 by The Hong Kong Chiap Hua Mfy. Co. (1947) Ltd.

Her replacement was Tanea, launched on 17th May 1950 and completed on 25th July 1950 by John Crown & Sons Ltd., Sunderland, Yard No. 231, at a cost of ?297,024. Ship details were:-3,060 gross, 1,625 net tons and 3,325 tons deadweight, 331ft. 10ins. length overall, 46ft. 1in. beam and 16ft. 8ins. draught. She was powered by a 4SA six-cylinder Werkspoor oil engine of 333n.h.p. made by Hawthorne Leslie & Co. Ltd., Newcastle. It gave a loaded service speed of 10.75 knots and burned 6.5 tons of fuel per day. Registered at Wellington, she had six sets of port, centre and starboard cargo tanks, with numbers 4-centre and 6-centre designed for the dual carriage of bulk oil or case oil. They were fitted with large removable gastight hatches, and flat metal guard plates were fitted to the internal pipelines to avoid damage by drummed cargo. Four two-ton derricks on the main mast served the two case oil tanks, and she had a trunk deck. Tanea was an almost identical sister ship to Felipes, which preceded her from the same builders as Yard No.230 and was delivered on 3rd March 1950 for Nederlandsche-Indies Tankstoomboot Mij., under the Dutch flag. The only external difference was the absence of derricks on Felipes's mainmast.

Tanea's delivery voyage began when she sailed from Sunderland on 27th July 1950 and she came via Bari, Haifa, Port Said, Suez, Abadan, and Singapore. She arrived at Wellington on 22nd October 1950 and took up the coastal voyages previously carried out by Paua, carrying only refined oils. Her trading around the New Zealand coast was mainly uneventful, one of the few minor incidents noted being her stranding in the Wanganui River whilst sailing in ballast from Castlecliff Wharf late in the evening of 11th August 1957. She was aground for only an hour and refloated after discharging 1,000 tons of water ballast, but her owners were understandably anxious, as Anglo-Saxon had previously lost their case-oil ship Cyrena (2,138 gross tons, built 1913) by stranding at Wanganui in May 1925.

Tanea in the Malacca Strait
Photo: M. Pryce Collection

The opening of New Zealand Refining Co.'s Marsden Point refinery at Whangarei early in 1964 completely changed the coastal distribution pattern, and Tanea became too small for the planned distribution of refined oils from the refinery around the coast. After drydocking in the floating dock at Wellington between 31st March and 2nd April 1964 she sailed from Wellington for the last time on 17th April 1964 for Singapore. She had been transferred from Shell Co. of New Zealand and Wellington registry to Shell Tankers (U.K.) Ltd. and London registry, for trading around the Singapore area.

In May 1965 she was working in South Vietnamese waters, and between July 1965 and July 1967 regularly traded from Singapore to Northwest Australian ports such as Port Hedland and Broome, sometimes calling at Cocos Island part-loaded on the return trip. Between July and September 1967 she underwent extensive steel renewals at Jurong drydock, Singapore, then between October 1967 and March 1968 served as a lightening tanker off South Vietnam. She then reverted to trading between Singapore and Northwest A ustralian ports until September 1968, after which she traded almost exclusively in the Singapore area. She normally loaded at Port Dickson, Pulau Bukom, and sometimes Miri, for discharge at Woodlands (Singapore Island), Kuching, Phuket, Penang, Telok Anson, and also made one-off voyages to Cocos Island, Nha Trang, Da Nang, Labuan, and Kota Kinabalu in 1969. From 1970 she traded exclusively between Pulau Bukom and Woodlands until she was laid up in the Western Anchorage, Singapore, on 20th January 1972. She arrived at Jurong, Singapore, on 31st January 1972 for demolition.

Tanea at Kuching, Sarawak in 1969
Photo: M. Pryce Collection

However, Tanea was followed in the New Zealand coastal trade by another tanker of similar size. She was Maurea (2,928 gross tons, built 1952), which had been launched on 28th November 1951 and completed on 4th April 1952 by Smith's Dock Co., Middlesbrough, as Fragum, Yard No. 1219, at a cost of ?333,771, for Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Co., and registered at London. Ship details were:- 2,926 gross, 1,280 net tons, 3,416 tons deadweight, 331ft. 11ins. length overall, 46ft. 4ins. beam and 17ft. draught. A triple-expansion engine of 1,600i.h.p. gave her a service speed of 11.5 knots. Although of similar dimensions to Tanea, she was purpose-built to carry bitumen in six centre tanks, with ballast only in the wing tanks. She was mostly used in the West Coast of England trade, loading bitumen in the Mersey for Ardrossan, then sailing southwards in ballast to Heysham to load fuel oil for discharge at Mersey or Manchester Ship Canal ports, Belfast or Dublin. Fragum was drydocked at Newcastle, England, towards the end of 1963 and was transferred to Shell Oil N.Z. Ltd. and renamed Maurea, registered at Wellington. She was one of the first Shell tankers to receive the newly-modified funnel colours of red funnel with yellow shell. She arrived at Wellington on 9th April 1964 from Newcastle via Curacao and Panama, eight days before Tanea left for Singapore. Maurea started a new coastal trade of distributing bitumen and fuel oil from Marsden Point, whilst coastal distribution of refined products was done by larger overseas Shell- or B.P. -owned or chartered tankers working around the coast.

Maurea alongside at Auckland
Photo: M. Pryce Collection

Maurea, however, was in turn to prove too small for the trade and was replaced by the larger tanker Erne in August 1970. After a period of lay-up at Lyttelton she was sold on 17th April 1971 to Ocean Bitumen Carriers Inc., part of the C.Y.Tung group of companies, and was renamed Dayu, registered at Monrovia. Dayu sailed from New Zealand for the Far East and changed her funnel markings to those of her new owners: blue with a black top, with a yellow star. She was next reported as working in the Saigon and Mekong Rivers, a trade for which her size would suit her admirably, probably loading cargo at Hong Kong or Singapore, or transhipping cargo from tankers at Saigon. Lloyd's List noted her as trading between Pulau Bukom, Penang and Port Dickson in December 1973. She was noted at anchor in Singapore's Western Anchorage on 18th July 1975. At a time of rising fuel oil prices her steam triple-expansion engines would not be very economical, and she arrived at Hong Kong in March 1976 for demolition by Fuji, Marden & Co. Ltd.

When Marsden Point refinery first came "on stream", the majority of refined products were carried around the coast by oil company-owned or -chartered ships. Thus, the first shipments of refined products loaded out of the refinery for delivery to other New Zealand ports were carried by the Dutch Shell tanker Arca, (12,222 gross tons, built 1959) and B.P.'s British Freedom, (11,207 gross tons, built 1950). Such ships usually completed only a few voyages around the coast before being replaced by other similar tonnage. After a time, however, there came some local maritime union pressure to have local seafarers involved in the coastal trade on dedicated tankers. This resulted in a series of tankers being demise-chartered by the oil companies for operation around the New Zealand coast. They were operated under the management of the Union Steam Ship Co. of N.Z. Ltd. and were fully manned by New Zealand crew on New Zealand articles. They largely replaced the procession of overseas tankers that had previously been working the coast.

Athelviscount arriving Auckland fully laden
Photo: © D. Brigham

The first of these to arrive was Athelviscount, (12,778 gross tons, built 1961), initially chartered for six years and handed over to a New Zealand crew at Durban, first arriving at Wellington on 29th August 1965. Owned by Athel Line Ltd. (of molasses tanker fame), she was completed in June 1961 by Smith's Dock Co. Ltd., South Bank, Middlesbrough, Yard No. 1261. Ship details were:- 12,778 gross, 7,322 net tons, 19,326 tons deadweight, 559ft. 3ins. length overall, 71ft. 7ins. beam and 30ft. 0ins draught. Single-screw geared steam turbines produced 7,500 s.h.p.. and gave a service speed of 14.5 knots. She had eleven centre tanks and nine sets of wing tanks, giving a total of twentynine tanks in all. A pump room aft contained four 450-tons-per-hour centrifugal cargo pumps. Her original charter was extended and it was not until 24th June 1978 that she sailed from Marsden Point for the last time, bound for Hong Kong for scrapping; she arrived there on 12th July 1978. She was handed over to Shun Fung Ironworks Ltd. on 22nd July 1978, and demolition work actually started on 5th November 1978. Amokura replaced her on the coast.

Hamilton departs Auckland
Photo: © D. Brigham

The second tanker chartered for New Zealand coastal trading was Hamilton, (13,186 gross tons, built 1960) which arrived at Marsden Point in July 1967 from Singapore on her delivery voyage after being chartered. Owned by A. Radcliffe S.S. Co. Ltd., and operated by Evan Thomas Radcliffe & Co. Ltd., she was completed in July 1960 by J. Boel & Fils, Tamise, Yard No. 1364. Ship details were:-13,186 gross, 7,804 net tons, 20,495 tons deadweight, 560ft. 0ins. length overall, 72ft. 0ins. beam and 30ft. 9ins. draught. A single-screw 7,800b.h.p. 2 S.A. seven-cylinder Sulzer oil engine gave her a service speed of 15.5 knots. She had nine sets of port, centre and starboard cargo tanks, giving a total of twentyseven tanks in all. A pump room aft contained four 450-tons-per-hour centrifugal cargo pumps. Her registered owners were later the Hamilton Shipping Company, but she remained registered at London whilst named Hamilton. During her service of over eight years on the New Zealand coast, she made 321 voyages from Marsden Point (317 on the coast and four to Australia) and carried 5.8 million tonnes of products. She was replaced on the coast by Kotuku and made her last sailing from New Zealand on 24th October 1975, leaving Mount Maunganui for Singapore, where she was handed over to new owners, Feoso Oil Tanker S.A., Panama, and renamed Feoso Sun.

In November 1978 she arrived at Bataan Refinery, Manila Bay, and discharged 19,564 tonnes of Chinese crude oil. After discharge she anchored off the berth for survey to check for possible hull damage believed to have been sustained when she had berthed four days earlier. On 8th November 1978, whilst undergoing repairs, she exploded and sank at anchor, leaving her bows high in the air. Thirty of the fiftyeight Chinese, Indonesian and Filipino crew on board or nearby lost their lives, and many others suffered from burns. The wreck was sold to a salvage company for eventual scrapping.

The third tanker chartered was Erne, which was taken over by a New Zealand crew in July 1970, and carried a cargo of diesel from Singapore, arriving at Auckland on 16th August 1970. Owned initially by Nourse Line (James Nourse Ltd., London), management passed in May 1963 to Trident Tankers Ltd., in October 1965 to Hain-Nourse Ltd., in April 1969 back to Trident Tankers Ltd., and in August 1971 to P.&O. Bulk Shipping Division. She had been completed in February 1962, Yard No. 493, by Charles Connell & Co. Ltd., Glasgow, with details of:- 14,244 gross, 8,241 net tons, 20,090 tons tons deadweight, 559.8ft. length overall, 71.9ft. beam and 31.1ft. draught. Single-screw with geared steam turbines of 8,800s.h.p., her service speed was 14.5 knots. She had nine sets of port, centre and starboard cargo tanks, giving a total of twentyseven tanks. A single pump room contained four 500-tonnes-per-hour centrifugal cargo pumps. Just prior to entering on her New Zealand charter she went to Sembawang Shipyard in Singapore, where her numbers 4,5,6 and 7 centre tanks were converted to carry bitumen, and were fitted with extra heating coils for this cargo. An athwartship bulkhead dividing No. 7 centre tank, allowing smaller parcels of bitumen to be carried, was also fitted. Unlike the previous large tankers on charter, which carried refined white oil products such as petrol, kerosene and diesel, Erne, as stated above, replaced the much smaller Maurea as the black oil tanker, carrying bitumen, fuel oil, and marine diesel. She was to spend fourteen years trading uneventfully around the coast, broken only by voyages to Japan, Singapore, Newcastle or Brisbane for periodic drydocking and survey.

Erne at Wellington
Photo: © C.B. Mulholland

Her last sailing from New Zealand was on 12th May 1984, when she sailed from Bluff after discharging her last coastal cargo, arriving at Manila on 28th May 1984 for tank cleaning. On completion of cleaning she sailed from Manila on 2nd June 1984, arrived at Kaohsiung on 4th June 1984, and berthed on 5th June 1984 for demolition by Sing Cheng Yung Iron & Steel Co. Demolition work commenced on 14th July 1984.

Rather surprisingly, Erne's fourteen-year stint on the New Zealand coast is not mentioned at all in the World Ship Society's publications on the P.&O. and Nourse Line fleets, although a photograph in the P.&O. book shows her with what became the standard funnel markings of all the New Zealand coastal tankers, a black funnel with a silver fern, which she acquired during her early years here. She was replaced on the coast by Taiko (see below).

During the mid-1970s increased output from the Marsden Point refinery required an increase in the coastal tanker tonnage available. Two new tankers were ordered which were virtually identical to B.P.'s River class tankers, the main difference being increased accommodation space aft, gained by having the cabins on two decks built out to the full width of the superstructure block, instead of having outside alleyways as on the standard B.P. ships.

Kotuku was completed in September 1975 by Eriksbergs M/V A/B (Lindholmen Div.), Gothenburg, Yard No. 695, followed by Kuaka in November 1975, Yard No. 696. Both were sister ships, with details of:-16,221 gross, 9,954 net tons, 25,503 tonnes deadweight, 171.46 metres length overall, 25.02 metres beam and 9.57 metres draught. A single-screw 2SA six-cylinder B.& W. oil engine produced 12,500b.h.p. and a service speed of 16 knots. They had eight sets of port, centre and starboard cargo tanks, making twentyfour in total, and the single pump room contained four 500-tonnes-per-hour centrifugal cargo pumps. An internal difference between the two was that Kotuku was fitted with heating coils in her cargo tanks to enable her to carry cargoes of black oil which required such heating to keep it fluid, but Kuaka was not so fitted.

Kuaka at Auckland
Photo: D. Wright Collection

Kotuku arrived at Marsden Point on her delivery voyage on 30th October 1975. Kuaka arrived at Marsden Point on 25th January 1976 from Sweden via U.K., Singapore, and Miri, where she had loaded 25,500 tonnes of oil for the refinery Kotuku replaced Hamilton in the coastal trade, but Kuaka was an extra ship. Wellington Tankers Ltd. owned Kotuku, and Auckland Tankers Ltd. owned Kuaka; both were part of the Papachristidis Group of companies. Both ships were registered at Wellington.

Hindustan at Timaru 6 August 1978. She was renamed Amokura two days later
Photo: © D. Shepherd

The next new arrival on the coast was Amokura, replacing Athelviscount, but she actually arrived at Marsden Point on 22nd July 1978 from Singapore under her original name of Hindustan, and was renamed Amokura at an official ceremony in Wellington on 8th August 1978. She had been completed in September 1976 by Swan Hunter Shipbuilders Ltd., Readhead Shipyard, South Shields, Yard No.91, for Hindustan Steam Shipping Co. (Common Bros. [Management] Ltd.). Ship details were:-19,867 gross, 11,396 net tons, 32,240 tonnes deadweight, 191.98 metres length overall, 26.95 metres beam and 10.39 metres draught. A single-screw seven-cylinder Sulzer oil engine produced 11,900b.h.p. and gave a service speed of 15 knots. She had six sets of port, centre and starboard cargo tanks, making eighteen in total, and four 900-tonnes-per-hour centrifugal cargo pumps. She was owned by Marsden Point Tankers Ltd., also part of the Papachristidis Group, and registered at Wellington. Her sister ship Kurdistan in the Common Bros. fleet ran into ice and broke in half near the Cabot Strait in March 1979, her bow being sunk by gunfire, but the stern was later salvaged and a new bow built on. The incident of her sister ship breaking in half was not forgotten by the crew of Amokura!

As with previous tankers on the coast, the above three were demise-chartered to the oil companies and manned and managed by Union Steam Ship Co. of N.Z. Ltd. Towards the end of their charter period, ownership of Kuaka, Kotuku and Amokura passed from the Papachristidis Group to Ship Finance Ltd.

Amokura was sold during February 1993 and handed over to new owners at Botany Bay, Australia, becoming the Cypriot-flag Transporter L.T.. During 1998 she was renamed Eastman Spirit. She sailed from Fujairah (Gulf of Oman) Anchorage on 9th July 1999 and arrived at Apapa (Lagos) on 6th August. By September she had sailed to San Lorenzo, Argentina, from where she sailed for India. Later, whilst bound from San Lorenzo to Bahia Blanca (Argentina) with approximately 24,000 tonnes of vegetable oil, she grounded in the River Parana (Uruguay) on 17th February 2000 and obstructed the main channel. She was refloated with tug assistance on 18th February and continued on her voyage to Bahia Blanca, with no damage reported. Kuaka was sold on 8th March 1996 for $3.7 million to International Tanking Ltd., Bangkok, and made her last voyage around the New Zealand coast in late March 1996. She sailed from Napier on 26th March 1996 for Australia and Singapore. During her service on the coast she had completed 750 coastal voyages and loaded 250 feedstock cargoes from Port Taranaki, totalling about 25 million tonnes coastwise. She also made about forty laden trans-Tasman voyages. She was handed over to new owners at Singapore on 3rd May 1996 and was renamed Sea Topaz. Managers were listed as Rim Pacific Ltd. In March 1997 she was reported resold to Singapore interests for $3.8 million, and renamed Trust A. She was trading in the Mediterranean in September 2000. Registered owners were Ancora Investment Trust Inc., Athens, and she was Maltese-flag. In April 2002 she was reported sold for demolition.

Kotuku berthed at Lyttelton 24 April 1998
Photo: © D. Shepherd

Kotuku was sold on 14th September 1998 to European owners for $2.75 million, with delivery in late October 1998 at Brisbane, where she was renamed Cercina, under the Tunisian flag. She later sailed from Augusta, Sicily, on 19th January 2000 for La Goulette (north of Tunis), and she was trading in the Mediterranean in September 2000. Her registered owners are Compagnie Generale Maritime, Suresnes Cedex.

To replace the bitumen carrier Erne, a new black oil tanker had been specially built in 1984. Taiko was completed in May 1984 by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., Nagasaki, Yard No. 1920. Ship details were:- 21,187 gross, 9,327 net tons, 33,374 tonnes deadweight, 174.86 metres length overall, 28.05 metres beam and 10.6 metres draught. She had been launched as Tara but was renamed before completion. Actually owned by Union Steam Ship Co. Ltd., she was registered at Wellington on 30th May 1984.

Taiko sailing from Lyttelton
Photo: © A. Calvert

Initial crew industrial problems resulted in her being re-registered in Hong Kong on 29th June 1984 and she was operated by a Hong Kong crew for a few months, sailing from Japan for China, Guam and Singapore. She made her first New Zealand arrival at Auckland on 2nd October 1984 and made a few coastal voyages before her registry was changed back to Wellington on 9th October 1984.

Australian Spirit was purchased in 1996 as a replacement for Kuaka. She had been completed in March 1987 by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., Nagasaki, Yard No. 1985, for B.P. Australia Ltd., and was managed by Associated Steamships Pty. Ltd. in the Australian coastal trade. Ship details were:-23,547 gross, 8,448 net tons, 32,605 tonnes deadweight, 182.4 metres length overall, 26.83 metres beam, 10.526 metres draught. She was renamed Toanui, and registered at Wellington as owned by Seabird Ltd., Auckland.

Photo: © M. Pryce

Toanui made her first arrival in New Zealand on 4th January 1996 at Tauranga from Kwinana (Western Australia). She also introduced new modified funnel colours. The familiar markings of black funnel with a white fern were retained, but with the addition at the base of the funnel of a horizontal white band with a narrower pale blue-grey horizontal band above it.

A new double-hull tanker for the New Zealand coastal trade was ordered on 18th September 1996 from the Sczecin shipyard, Poland. Her keel was laid on 23rd June 1998, and she was launched on 26th September 1998, after which she was berthed alongside whilst the pipework, accommodation,engine room and electricals were fitted out. Hull No. B573-V, she was formally named Kakariki on 19th December 1998 by New Zealand businesswoman Judith Hanratty, Company Secretary for B.P. (a historical connection was that her father was marine manager for Shell New Zealand in the 1940s and 1950s). Kakariki performed sea trials between 9th and 14th January 1999, completed outfitting at the yard, and was handed over to Penagree Ltd., her registered owners, on 8th February 1999, registered at Wellington. Her first voyage started on 9th February 1999 when she sailed from her builder's yard. She arrived at Ventspils (Lithuania) on 11th February to load a cargo of some 40,000 tonnes of diesel, and sailed on 12th February. The diesel was for discharge at two ports in France, Donges, where she arrived on 20th February 1999, and Brest, where she arrived on 23rd February. Thereafter she sailed to Eleusis, a port near Athens, Greece, where she arrived on 4th March and loaded about 32,000 tonnes of naphtha for discharge in Japan/South Korea. She sailed from Eleusis on 6th March and arrived at Chiba, Japan, on 4th April and was transferred to the management of Silver Fern Shipping Ltd. on 7th April.

Kakariki in Wellington Harbour
Photo: © M. Pryce

She sailed from Chiba on 8th April for Singapore, where she loaded an oil cargo for Botany Bay, N.S.W., where she arrived on 5th May 1999. For the next month thereafter she traded between Australian ports. She arrived in New Zealand for the first time, at Lyttelton from Geelong, on 8th June 1999, then discharged at Wellington on 9th June before returning to Geelong to reload. Ship details were:-27,795 gross, 13,258 net tons, 46,724 tonnes deadweight, 183.0 metres length overall, 32.2 metres beam and 12.92 metres draught. She has twentytwo fully-coated cargo tanks, basically ten sets divided into port and starboard tanks, with the special bitumen tanks amidships further subdivided. She can carry up to nine fully segregated products, each discharged by deepwell cargo pumps fitted into her tanks. She has a complete double hull, with segregated water ballast able to be carried in the double-bottom and wing ballast tanks. She is also able to carry 3,000 tonnes of bitumen.

In mid-1998 Coastal Tankers Ltd. (who managed and co-ordinated the tanker movements on behalf of the four oil companies - see below) reviewed their fleet requirements. They decided that with their larger ships, they could operate with only two tankers in the fleet, the new Kakariki and Toanui, and without a dedicated black oil tanker. Thus the intention was that Taiko's charter from the Union Company was to be allowed to lapse in August 1998, and she was to be sold by them. In order to supply bitumen around the coast, it was planned to install an 1,800 tonnes-capacity deck tank in Toanui to carry this product. However, this plan was further revised and eventually it was decided to retain Taiko on charter for the time being, and to sell Toanui instead.

At the end of July 1999, when the term of her original charter expired, Taiko was purchased from Union Shipping Ltd. (as the Union Steam Ship Company had by then become) by the consortium of oil companies which had previously chartered her, and she continued to trade in New Zealand under the management of Coastal Tankers Ltd. and Silver Fern Shipping Ltd. Her registered owner became Penagree 2 Ltd.

Toanui sailed from New Plymouth on 18th September 1999 with a cargo of naphtha for Anjer, in Sunda Strait, west of Djakarta. After a period trading in the Far East, she was sold to Societa Esercizio Rimorchi e Salvataggi S.r.l. of Italy and was handed over at Singapore on 21st December 1999. After being renamed Lorenza under the Maltese flag, she sailed from Singapore bound for the Arabian Gulf. However, in April 2000 her new owners sold her yet again to Ultramar and she was renamed Andoas, operated by Petro Peru under the Panamanian flag. In September 2000 she sailed from Venezuela to Talara, Peru.

The tankers in service on the coast have all continued a nomenclature inadvertently started by Erne, which was actually named after a river and lough in Northern Ireland. "Erne" was also the name of the white-tailed sea eagle, but its use has long since fallen into disuse. When the later tankers were built or renamed for coastal trading, they were given the Maori name of various birds. Thus Amokura is the red-tailed tropic-bird, Kotuku the white heron, Kuaka the blue heron, Taiko the black petrel, Toanui the shearwater and Kakariki the green parrot. The coastal tankers load mostly at Marsden Point and discharge at Auckland, Tauranga, Gisborne, Napier, Wellington, New Plymouth, Nelson, Lyttelton, Timaru, Dunedin and Bluff. They also load condensate at New Plymouth for discharge at Marsden Point. They were managed by Union Steam Ship Co. Ltd. on behalf of the four oil companies (Shell, B.P., Mobil and Caltex) until 1993, when management passed to Coastal Tankers Ltd.

Coastal Tankers Ltd. had originally evolved about 1993 from the Coastal Co-ordinating Committee (known on the coastal tankers and to Union Company staff as "CoCo"), which, as its name suggested, co-ordinated the coastal oil cargo movements on the coastal tankers on behalf of the four oil companies.

During 1994, management of the coastal tankers passed from Union Steam Ship Co. of New Zealand Ltd. to Howard Smith Ship Management (New Zealand) Ltd. However, a short time after this, Howard Smith withdrew from shipping, and the management company re-emerged as Silver Fern Shipping Ltd. Coastal Tankers Ltd. was wound up on 1st October 2000, and Silver Fern Shipping Ltd. then assumed the role previously carried out by Coastal Tankers Ltd.

A different type of tanker to enter service on the New Zealand coast was the liquefied petroleum gas (L.P.G). tanker Tarihiko, completed in February 1984 by Ferguson-Ailsa Ltd., Troon, Yard No.559. Ship details were:-2,169 gross, 650 net tons, 1,872 tonnes deadweight, 81.11 metres length overall, 13.92 metres beam and 4.88 metres draught. She was owned by Ship Leasing (1982) Ltd., operated by Liquigas, Wellington, and was managed by Blueport ACT, Wellington, until 1991, when management passed to P.&O. (N.Z.).

Tarihiko in Wellington Harbour
Photo: © M. Pryce

Tarihiko loaded L.P.G. at New Plymouth and distributed it to Lyttelton, Dunedin and Onehunga. She played an important part in the rescue of passengers from the stricken Russian cruise liner Mikhail Lermontov in Port Gore on 16th February 1986, and took 356 souls on board. She was withdrawn from service and laid up at Dunedin during January 1999, and was replaced by chartered overseas L.P.G. tankers. Tarihiko was renamed Kilgas Centurion on 8th July 1999, and transferred to the Singaporean flag, having been bought by Danish owners KIL Shipping, an associate of Knud I. Larsen A/S. She sailed from Dunedin under her new name on 10th July 1999 with a Latvian crew, bound initially for Singapore, before continuing on to Europe, where she was trading in September 2000. On 15th February 2001 she ran aground on a sandy beach whilst on a loaded voyage from Teesport to the Thames, and was refloated undamaged by tugs the following day.

The tanker Ellida was purchased for US$9.6 million in February 1995 for conversion at Singapore into a FPSO (Floating Production, Storage, Offloading) unit. She had been built in 1976 by Nippon Kokan K.K. at the Tsunumi Yard, Yokohama, and was launched as Vincenzia, but was completed as Umm Shaif. Ship details were:-71,283 gross tons, 137,684 tonnes deadweight, 266.0 metres length overall, 43.578 metres beam and 17.02 metres draught. She was sold in 1990 to Morten Werrings Rederi, Norway, and renamed Ellida.

Whakaaropai with the Taiko loading. The Maui B platform is in the background
Photo: Courtesy of M. Pryce

Renamed Whakaaropai, she was registered as a New Zealand ship at Timaru on 3rd May 1996 for the delivery voyage from Singapore to New Zealand. She arrived at her planned position offshore from the Taranaki coast on 4th August 1996, and was finally connected to her pre-laid mooring system over the Maui oilfield on 13th August 1996. Testing and commissioning of equipment was completed, and the first cargo off-loaded was on 24th August 1996 by the tanker Pacific Onyx. The commissioning of the FPSO ended a three-year programme which began following the discovery of oil in the Maui field in 1993. The field had an initially-expected life of four-and-a-half years, but additional oil discoveries have extended this.

("FPSO" is a Floating Production, Storage, Offloading tanker. Permanently moored offshore, product from the Maui field is pumped into her through a permanent pipeline and stored in her until tankers come to load it from her into their tanks and take it away. Whakaaropai exports product for Fletcher Energy, whereas condensate loaded at New Plymouth is destined for refining at Marsden Point).

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