An Interislander ferry broke down in the Cook Strait Sunday evening, February 12th, and drifted while en route to Picton from Wellington (New Zealand).
ARATERE (1998-built/IMO 9174828) was drifting ~2 knots outside of the route into Marlborough Sounds.
According to Harbourmaster Jake Oliver, he had been notified of an issue with Interislander’s Aratere ferry after 6 pm when the vessel was southeast of Tory Channel. He said there had been an issue that was under investigation but the ship had restored power.
It is not clear what caused the breakdown.
The ferry made its way to Queen Charlotte Sound's northern entrance, taking a modified route.
According to Interislander executive general manager Walter Rushbrook, the Aratere had experienced “a technical issue causing a partial loss of power on the way to Picton this evening and slowed for short time”.
“She was quickly back to normal speed and has continued to Picton via the Northern Entrance of the Marlborough Sounds. We will be investigating the cause of the issue.”
The breakdown comes weeks after another Interislander ferry - Kaitaki (1995-built/IMO 9107942) broke down in Cook Strait. On January 28th, KiwiRail advised Maritime NZ the vessel had reported engine problems. Around 10 minutes later the ship (carrying 864 people) issued an SOS. All its 4 diesel engines had shut down in the middle of the Cook Strait. According to KiwiRail, this was caused by a leak in the engine cooling system, resulting in a loss of pressure.
6 vessels made their way to the accident scene, and 5 rescue helicopters were called. Police were in charge of the onshore operation.
Kaitaki can now only carry freight, not passengers.