Ship boat

Crippled freighter towed out of Port Taranaki, still unable to use its engines

The Richardais was towed from Port Taranaki on Tuesday morning and will be delivered to Wellington.

VANESSA LAURIE / Stuff

The Richardais was towed from Port Taranaki on Tuesday morning and will be delivered to Wellington.

A week after being towed to Port Taranaki, a huge timber freighter was towed again, still unable to use its engines.

Shortly after 9 a.m. on Tuesday, a support vessel put La Richardais out to sea for delivery to Wellington.

From there, an offshore tug will tow La Richardais to a dry dock for repairs – most likely in Asia, said Belinda Snell, director of the Nautilus Shipping Agency, which manages the vessel.

The Richardais is 180 meters long, almost the length of two rugby pitches, and can carry 35,000 tonnes of logs.

“There is no place in New Zealand that can accommodate a vessel of this size,” Snell said.

Three tugs brought La Richardais to Port Taranaki a week ago after she broke down 64 nautical miles offshore.

VANESSA LAURIE / Stuff

Three tugs brought La Richardais to Port Taranaki a week ago after she broke down 64 nautical miles offshore.

The Richardais was 64km off Raglan when she broke down en route from Sydney to New Plymouth on the evening of Sunday May 22.

The captain called for help and the Skandi Emerald, a supply vessel owned by Austrian oil company OMV, was dispatched from Port Taranaki.

Skandi Emerald towed La Richardais less than two kilometers from the port, from where three tugs brought her back last Tuesday afternoon.

But after a week in port, engineers were unable to fix the problem, which Snell said was in the stern shaft.

“She doesn’t have her own propulsion.”

The Richardais was visiting New Plymouth to collect logs, and Snell said the exporter had to change the rotation of ships around the country.

Snell said a new vessel is due to come to port later this week to pick up the logs.

Problems like this have happened from time to time in international shipping, Snell said.

“When things go wrong, they tend to be great things.”