That’s the message to Pacific Schooners Ltd from the Ports Authority which seems to have just about run out of patience with the owners of troubled vessel Tiare Taporo which has lain idle at Avatiu wharf since August 2016.
Despite forecast strong winds and high seas resulting in an official evacuation notice requiring all boats to leave the harbour by 5pm last Friday, the Tiare Taporo remained at the wharf
In the last 18 months the ship has made only a brief “voyage” last year, leaving the harbour briefly, two days before an October 10 deadline to prove it could move under its own power.
In a statement released to CINews yesterday, the Ports Authority said it was “deeply concerned” at the Tiare Taporo’s inability to move out of the harbour while an evacuation order was in place.
“This is especially concerning as the owner of one other vessel that was unable to move under its own power did heed the closure notice.
“That owner arranged for their vessel to be towed clear of the harbour at real expense and inconvenience, pointing up what was expected of all port users, including the Tiare Taporo.”
Acknowledging concerns from other port users that the Tiare Taporo was receiving special treatment – and a general belief that its non-departure was intended to save its owners fuel and manpower costs, the Ports Authority said it had been “actively attempting to engage with the owners to make sure the Tiare Taporo could leave when needed”.
“Those attempts met with an unsatisfactory lack of response to the point that by late last Thursday, the Authority was giving consideration to what might be needed to tow the vessel clear, using its own resources and leaving it to drift, unmanned.”
The statement said a representative of the ship’s owners had boarded the vessel on Friday, only to report that there were problems in the engine room, citing vandalism of electrical fittings as the cause.
Not good enough, said the Ports Authority Board.
“The fact that this was discovered at the 11th hour does suggest to the Board that the Tiare Taporo has been ‘abandoned’ to the point that there is not even basic ongoing oversight, maintenance and security in place from the owners.”
In addition to the vessel’s failure to leave the harbour under an evacuation order, the Ports Authority also noted that the Tiare Taporo’s owners had failed to live up to the requirements of a court ruling made late last year for payment of outstanding port dues, totalling more than $36,000.
“There has been ongoing speculation by other ports users as to whether the Tiare Taporo is paying its way,” the statement said.
“As of February 12, 2018, its owner has paid neither rent of the (cargo) shed nor port dues since the November compromise was ordered by the High Court.”
The bottom line appears to be that if steps aren’t taken to remedy the Tiare Taporo’s current situation “as a matter of urgency”, its owners could well end up back in court.
“The current situation is unacceptable,” the Ports Authority statement said.
“Ports will be requiring that the Tiare Taporo leave harbour to demonstrate its ability to do so. Moving forward, Ports will be requiring start-up of (the vessel’s) gensets at least once a week to demonstrate system readiness, and engine start at least once every month.
“The board of the Authority assures the public and port users who do pay their dues that if all arrears due for the period since the compromise was ordered are not paid as a matter of urgency and the vessel itself does not demonstrate its ability to leave port whenever required, Ports will return to court in the winding up/compromise proceedings to seek appropriate orders.”
- Shaun Bamber/Release