Photo: Tim Morrison
Last Voyage of the Westport
The time to bid fair winds and following seas to 'La Grande Dame' of the New Zealand shipping scene has come. The iconic cement carrier Westport has been berthed at the Port of Onehunga throughout the past seven weeks, after discharging her final load of cement for Holcim NZ on July 23. But she set sail from Onehunga for the very last time on 21 September, on the tide, after being sold to European interests.
SMT Shipping has purchased Westport as a going concern, and intends to employ her in the cement trade, with Norway her new operational base. Holcim representative Robyn Flynn said of the transaction, "I am so pleased that we have sold her and she will continue as a cement carrier rather than going to scrap". She was handed over to her new owners, and taken out of the New Zealand registry at the same time. Westport is now known as Fjordvik, and flew the Bahamas flag when she departed Onehunga for the final time.
A full crew is now on board, along with two Holcim employees, who will oversee the vessel's operational handover. They also guided the ship through the Manukau Heads one final time before heading south to New Plymouth. While there, Westport will undertake an in-water survey before commencing her longest voyage since first arriving at Onehunga from Hamburg, Germany, on 27 March 1976.
That maiden call was the first of 1104 times she tied up at Onehunga, a tally no other ship visiting the port has come remotely close to matching. Barring any calls by the other Holcim ship, Milburn Carrier II, to replenish the silos with cement from Timaru before the year is out, Westport's departure has brought down the curtain on roughly 180 years of shipping activity at the Port of Onehunga.
LPG tankers continue to make sporadic visits to the Manukau, usually in winter to meet high demand. The most recent was Panama-flagged LPG tanker Bougainville (4752-dwt, built 2014) on 9 September.
Jai, John, Kerrie, Lance, Lisa, Suzy, Varsha