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INTERISLANDER INVESTIGATES TORY CHANNEL INCIDENT

4 May 2011

Interislander is investigating an incident in Tory Channel today in which the Monte Stello appears to have touched the seabed.

Interislander general manager Thomas Davis said Interislander informed regulatory authorities, including Maritime New Zealand, when the incident occurred and would assist those agencies with their investigations as well as carrying out an internal inquiry.

"Till those have been completed, it is not possible to say what caused the incident."

Mr Davis confirmed that it appeared the early morning sailing of Monte Stello from Wellington to Picton veered from its course shortly after entering Tory Channel and touched a submerged object on its way to Picton.

"The master felt a brief impact, and the ship continued on its course. He assessed the ship's performance and handling and instrument readings, before continuing to Picton, where the vessel unloaded.

"The ship was assessed in Picton, before returning to Wellington. It sailed empty (with no cargo) using the Northern Entrance of Queen Charlotte Sound, in an appropriate precautionary approach."

Mr Davis said the ship would be assessed by the classification society Lloyds when it arrived in Wellington, and decisions on its return to service would be made then. Investigations are being held by Interislander, Maritime New Zealand, and the Transport Accident Investigation Commission.

Monte Stello, owned by Strait Shipping, has been chartered by Interislander to carry freight only for five months from the end of March to fill the gap while rail ferry Aratere is away for a re-fit.

Contact: Cathie Bell, Interislander
04 4983383 or 021 804906