The Shiling, a 66,500-deadweight-tonne containership, arrived back in Wellington, New Zealand on 23 May, after suffering its fourth engine failure in a year. The ship’s reported difficulty had become something of a tourist attraction, with residents of the town gathering to watch its return. The tow had lasted more than 24 hours to bring the 965-foot vessel back from an anchorage off the north coast of New Zealand South Island. The ship had reportedly experienced engine failure in heavy seas on 12 May after transiting the Cook Strait.
The crew had originally prepared to abandon ship and a mayday call was sent. However, the weather calmed down, and the fearsome alert was withdrawn. The ship was rescued by an industrial tugboat and navigated to Tasman Bay the following day. Maritime New Zealand oversaw the operation, which involved several authorities, including Singapore, and defined the experience as a “complex operation,” aiding in the management of the many risk-factors.
Maritime New Zealand has begun an investigation into the incident, while New Zealand’s Transport Accident Investigation Commission also follows. The condition was deemed complex and unusual, requiring a significant number of workers and resources to bring the Shiling back to Wellington. Those investigations suggest that the engine failure could be the consequence of harsh weather environments or that the engine just remained faulty. The owners have flown in engineers to investigate the engines and assess the feasibility of repairs.
The Shiling, which was reported to carry some 250 containers instead of its normal capacity of 5,028 TEU, will remain in Wellington for the foreseeable future. The New Zealander authorities had previously issued a detention notice to the ship after suffering prior power problems in recent months. At the time of the incident, the vessel drifted across a sandbar nearly causing a major accident and damage to the ship.