Ship awaits go-ahead for Japan return
A large car carrier with 23 crew that left Japan to unload cargo in New Zealand just before the devastating earthquake on March 11 is lying in Tasman Bay without a home to go to for now. The 183-metre Triumph, which can carry up to 5000 cars, was in transit for New Zealand when the earthquake struck. It arrived in Auckland a few days later and off-loaded cars before heading to Wellington and Nelson, where it has been in limbo since March 21.
The ship's New Zealand agent, Mitsui Osk Lines pure car carrier trade manager Brendan Hodson, said the ship was anchored in Tasman Bay and was "sitting in the taxi rank" waiting for the green light to begin steaming back to Japan. Delays to shipping were caused by the lack of safe anchorages available in Japan right now. A lot of land site infrastructure had stopped operating as a result of the earthquake and tsunami, and many ports were congested.
"There is only a finite number of safe anchorages in Japan, so the vessel is staying in Nelson, which is a safe anchorage, and it's such a nice place to wait," Mr Hodson said.
He said the Triumph's 23 crew were from around the world, including Bulgaria, the Ukraine, India, Latvia and Romania. The ship had enough supplies to sustain the crew for a month or more, and it had its own water-making systems on board.
The crew also had good stocks of movies, alcohol and cigarettes, and fishing rods. "They can fish from there and they've received guidance from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries about daily catch limits. "They're aware of the rules," Mr Hodson said.
He was unsure when the Triumph might leave Tasman Bay.
On a more serious note, Mr Hodson said vehicle cargo volumes from Japan were "well down" as a result of the earthquake's impact on production and the damage to infrastructure.
He said it had impacted on new and used car volumes coming in to New Zealand.