Stacked high with empty containers, the Aotea Maersk came in light on the first visit to the Port of Tauranga, mostly to accommodate the daylight welcome ceremony held on the north end of the Sulphur Point wharf.
Port of Tauranga chief executive Mark Cairns, said that the vessel was in the port for one tidal cycle and was loaded lightly for a scheduled low tide departure at 5am on Wednesday. Even so the container exchange on the first visit was on and off, much more than that was initially expected.
Having Maersk’s big ships westbound calling on North Asian ports is also having other unexpected effects. He said that already they are seeing a lot of empty containers being repatriated out of Australia, they are actually coming down to Tauranga on a separate service and being transshipped onto this vessel. There is a real surfeit of empties in Australia and they are actually transhipping them down to Tauranga on a different service and then going direct to North Asia on this service.
It’s more or less the opposite of what the New Zealand Shippers’ Council warning issued some years ago about the dangers of New Zealand exporters being forced to transship via either Brisbane or Melbourne if there was no big ship capable port in New Zealand. Not only is the Port of Tauranga the only New Zealand port capable of handling the 9500 TEU ships, but they won’t be calling at Australian ports on any Asian service.
If the ship is laden with more than 10m draught means they cannot pass through the relatively shallow channels of the Torres Strait between Cape York and New Guinea from Australia.
Maersk Line Oceania Managing Director Gerard Morrison says the bigger ships are more fuel-efficient on a per-container basis whilst also significantly reducing the carbon footprint of the ocean freight component of the supply chain. The Aotea Maersk is deployed on Maersk Line’s enhanced Triple Star service which now offers a fast weekly connection to North Asia providing New Zealand exporters with a sustainable, direct service to important markets including Taiwan, China, Korea and Japan.
Aotea Maersk is one of the 11 vessels in service rotation each capable of holding more than double the number of containers of ships that currently dock in New Zealand. The ship is 347 metres in length – longer than three rugby fields, end-to-end.
Kotahi Chief Executive David Ross, says that the Aotea Maersk arrival is a great step in the right direction to ensure that New Zealand achieves a secure, sustainable export supply chain. Seeing this vessel arrive, puts into perspective what can be achieved by working in collaboration with logistics and infrastructure partners, exporters, importers and the wider industry. It recognises Maersk Line’s commitment to the New Zealand market.
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