When this photo was taken late on Sunday afternoon, the Tiare Taporo had just returned to port. The ship’s stern was positioned at an angle to the wharf, and the engine was running.
A number of helpers were at the wharf, hauling ropes and helping to reposition the vessel alongside the wharf and a number of spectators were gathered at various vantage points around the wharf.
Last week PSL was given a deadline of 5pm today (Tuesday) to prove that the ship could be moved from the harbour under its own power.
If it couldn’t be moved, the rusting vessel, which has been immobile since last August, would have been deemed by the court to have been abandoned. That meant the Ports Authority would have taken the necessary legal procedures to have the boat towed out to sea and sunk.
Ports Authority solicitor Tim Arnold confirmed yesterday that the Tiare Taporo had demonstrated successfully that it could leave the harbour under its own power.
“In terms of the directions of the Court and the agreement signed between the company and Ports, the Tiare Taporo’s successful departure from the harbour yesterday afternoon and its return and re-berthing, represents a demonstration that the vessel is mechanically capable of leaving the harbour sufficient to satisfy the Ports Authority that the vessel has not been “abandoned” within the meaning of the Ports Authority Act 1994-95,” he told CINews yesterday.
“In coming days the Authority will be in discussion with the owners on the issues of manning (i.e. personnel to remove the vessel if/when needed) and ports dues.”
With the matter before the court, it was not appropriate to comment on developments in detail, Arnold said.
“However, Ports notes with approval the arrival here of both Dan Moreland and Wolfe McGill – qualified skipper and engineer respectively.
“Ports is confident of negotiating protocols and arrangements that meet the public interest in maintaining the integrity of the port and the question of ports dues/public revenue matters.”
Sunday’s voyage marked the first time the Tiare Taporo has left the harbour for more than a year. It made its last trip to the northern islands back in August 2016.
In the meantime, it has been moved to various locations at the port after other harbour users complained about the inconvenience of having it berthed in a prime position outside the cargo shed.
The requirement to prove the ship could be moved from the harbour under its own power was brought about by fears that in the event of a cyclone, the Tiare Taporo might damage the wharf or sink, blocking access to the harbour.
The cyclone season begins next month.