Ex-employee lists ship’s ‘issues’

Sunday October 29, 2017 Written by Published in Local
The Tiare Taporo at Avatiu wharf, where it has been berthed since August last year. 17102919 The Tiare Taporo at Avatiu wharf, where it has been berthed since August last year. 17102919

A former Pacific Schooners Ltd employee has claimed the company’s ship Tiare Taporo was suffering from a number of issues that in his opinion, showed the company was unable to reliably and safely manoeuver the ship.


Some of those problems, involving starting and stopping the vessel, were detailed in a CINews story when the ship left port briefly a couple of weeks ago, but the former employee, who asked not to be named, claimed the Tiare Taporo also had other issues.

“The rudder was getting intermittently stuck at 20 degrees to port which is fixed now.

“The power would fail regularly and has done (so) many times when coming to anchor. Most of these issues have now been fixed.

“When sailing the Tiare Taporo you have to be ready for a failure and fix it so you are not reliant on the backup systems.

“The bridge did have controls for the engine but they have been failed for many years and the past six engineers have not able to fix this.

“Another layer of complexity is the limited air supply required to start and change direction of the engine,” he said. There are three air compressors that produce this air, which is stored in large air vessels.

He claimed the air compressor on the main engine does not work and that this was reported to PSL directors in November 2015.

“The two electric air compressors are temperamental and have been repaired many times. They were operational in August 2016, but needed monitoring. To have both generators running you needed the main generator running, which increased the engine room noise and the difficulty in communicating with the engineer.

“You could charge up all your air vessels before approaching a port and turn off the second air compressor so now you were down to one automatic air compressor. The complexity of this is that two of the three air vessels leak and the air lines to the main engine leak, so the air will run out eventually.”

The former employee said another failed item that had not been repaired despite requests to PSL director Garth Broadhead, was the air regulator to operate all engine controls.

“The Tiare Taporo was running on the back-up unit the last time I saw the ship in October, 2016. The big restriction is you have only 3-6 starts and then (you) need to wait 20 minutes until you can start the engine again.”

The life rafts on the vessel were “well expired”, the former employee claimed, and so were most of the distress flares.

“All the fire extinguishers and lifejacket lights are also expired. I believe the EPIRB battery expires in 2017.

“The life ring lights and other safety equipment including the emergency and backup navigation batteries have also been damaged with (the ship’s) abandonment.”

This week CINews asked Ports Authority chief executive Nooroa (Bim) Tou whether the authority had worked out any kind of agreement with PSL over how the Tiare Taporo would be moved from the harbor in the event of a cyclone or some other natural disaster.

While PSL demonstrated recently that the ship could move from the harbor under its own power, questions remain over whether a qualified engineer and skipper are still on the island and how a crew could be put together quickly in an emergency.

Tou said another hearing in the Ports Authority’s long-running legal negotiations with PSL would be held on Saturday, and the matter was still before the court.

Tou said he would pass on CINews’enquries to Ports Authority Tim Arnold lawyer to see if he wanted to comment. However, nothing has since been heard from Arnold. 

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