Stuff.co.nz – Cook Strait workhorse arrives at final scrapheap

Written by Tom Hunt

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4 November 2015 - A polluted scrapheap on an Indian coastline appears to be the final destination for a retired Cook Strait workhorse.

A picture titled “Arahura’s final photo” shows the old Cook Strait ferry moored off an Indian beach framed by a polluted sky.

A ship tracking website has pinpointed Arahura on an arm of water between the western Indian states of Gujarat and Maharashtra. It is near the famous Alang ship breaking yards.

Firstpost.com this year reported the Alang ship breaking yards, where ships are winched onto beaches at high tide to be dismantled by hand, were in decline.

A flood of cheap Chinese steel and new environmental laws were to blame but there was still trade, mostly using migrant labour.

“Equipment, such as radars, engines – and even tables and chairs – is taken off and sold, while the steel from the hull is removed for scrap.

“The trade in Alang used to employ about 60,000 directly, with thousands more in spin-off businesses.”

When the 32-year-old ship left Wellington early last month, The Dominion Post reported it was thought to be going to Alang.

An Interislander spokesman would not say how much the ferry sold for, as the new owners had asked for confidentiality surrounding the sale.

The future use of the ship, known as KiwiRail’s “quiet achiever”, would be a decision for the new owners, he said.

Shipping expert Peter Dawson, of Dawson & Associates, believed a ship as old as the Arahura would definitely be sold for parts, because the cost of maintaining the ship would be too costly.

He expected scrap metal from the 13,600-tonne ship to fetch more than $2.1 million on the open market.

Arahura made its last passenger journey across the Cook Strait in July.

It was the only ship in the Interislander fleet specifically designed for the often treacherous stretch of water, and had clocked up almost 13 million kilometres – the equivalent of travelling 325 times around the world.

It was the first ship in Australasia to feature a modern bridge with a cutting-edge cockpit-style design. Its capacity to handle even the roughest weather made it a vital part of the fleet.