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Welcome home, Aratere
Interislander ferry Aratere berthed in Wellington this morning (02 July 2014), following a five month absence during which she underwent repair work and scheduled two yearly dry dock maintenance in Singapore.
GM Interislander, Thomas Davis, said it was great to see the workhorse of the Interislander fleet return, ready to take her place alongside sister ships, Kaitaki and Arahura.
"At six sailings a day between Wellington and Picton, Aratere makes more sailings than the other ferries and provides 45% of Interislander's capacity. She's a hard worker."
Mr Davis said over the next week classification society surveyors, as well as Maritime New Zealand, will check the ship is safe to resume service.
"Wellingtonians and visitors will see her undergoing sea trials around Wellington Harbour and in Cook Strait as she manoeuvres to test speed variations, direction and bow thrusters and stabilisers."
Divers will also undertake an underwater inspection to check the condition of propellers, shaft seals, rudders and so on, and a number of other intensive tests and fine tuning will be also be carried out before the ferry is signed off as ready for service.
Mr Davis said safety is KiwiRail's top priority.
"We will leave no stone unturned on safety, and Aratere will not sail until we're satisfied about all aspects of the reconditioning programme."
When Aratere resumes Cook Strait crossing, she will initially provide mainly freight sailings on a reduced timetable to allow onboard systems, processes and routines to be re-established, Mr Davis said.