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WAHINE (N.Z.)

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WAHINE (N.Z.)

Postby D. v. Nieuwenhuijzen » Thu Mar 01, 2018 3:08 pm

wahine z.png
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2018_Wahine-Anniversary_MinSht.png
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Built in 1964-'65 by Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Ltd. Govan, Scotland, #830, for Union Steamship Co. of New Zealand, laid down 14-09-'64, launched 14-07-'65, commissioned 12-06-'66.
Completed by Fairfields (Glasgow) Ltd. on new contract signed 06-01-'66 following the collapse of the Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. in October'65.
Ferry passenger/vehicles, Gt:8944, Nt:3951, Dw:1430, Loa:149m. (488') B:22m. (71') Depth:12.65m. (41'6") Draft:5.18m. (17') 4 boilers, 2 AEI turbo-alternators driving 2 AEI propulsion alternators:? hp. twin screw, 22 kn. 6 decks, complement:126, passengers daytime:1050, at night:927 in more than 300 1, 2, 3 and 4 persons cabins, 200 cars, IMO.6519584.
On 18-06-'66 she left Greenock, sailed via Panama Canal, arrived Wellington 24-07-'66, maiden voyage 01-08-'66 from Wellington to Lyttelton.

On the evening of 9 April 1968 she departed from Lyttelton for a routine overnight crossing, carrying 610 passengers and 123 crew.

Extreme weather conditions.
In the early morning of 10 April two violent storms merged over Wellington, creating a single extratropical cyclone that was the worst recorded in New Zealand's history. Cyclone Giselle was heading south after causing much damage in the north of the North Island. It hit Wellington at the same time as another storm that had driven up the West Coast of the South Island from Antarctica. The winds in Wellington were the strongest ever recorded. At one point they reached 275 kilometres per hour (171 mph) and in one Wellington suburb alone ripped off the roofs of 98 houses. Three ambulances and a truck were blown onto their sides when they tried to go into the area to rescue injured people.

As the storms hit Wellington Harbour, WAHINE was making her way out of Cook Strait on the last leg of her journey. Although there were weather warnings when she set out from Lyttelton, there was no indication that storms would be severe or any worse than those often experienced by vessels crossing the Cook Strait

At 05.50 hrs, with winds gusting at between 100 kilometres per hour (62 mph) and 155 kilometres per hour (96 mph) Captain Hector Gordon Robertson decided to enter harbour. Twenty minutes later the winds had increased to 160 kilometres per hour (99 mph), and she lost her radar. A huge wave pushed her off course and in line with Barrett Reef. Robertson was unable to turn her back on course, and decided to keep turning around and back out to sea.

For 30 minutes she battled into the waves and wind, but by 06.10 hrs she was not answering her helm and had lost control of her engines. At 0640 hrs she was driven onto the southern tip of Barrett Reef, near the harbour entrance less than a mile from shore. She drifted along the reef, shearing off her starboard propeller and gouging a large hole in her hull on the starboard side of the stern, beneath the waterline. Passengers were told that she was aground but there was no immediate danger. They were directed to don their lifejackets and report to their muster stations as a routine "precautionary measure".

The storm continued to grow more intense. The wind increased to over 250 kilometres per hour (160 mph) and she dragged her anchors and drifted into the harbour. At about 11.00 hrs, close to the western shore at Seatoun, her anchors finally held. At about the same time the tug TAPUHI reached her and tried to attach a line and bring her in tow, but after 10 minutes the line broke. Other attempts failed, but the deputy harbourmaster, Captain Galloway, managed to climb aboard from the pilot boat.

Throughout the morning, the danger of the ship sinking seemed to pass as the vessel's location was in an area where the water depth did not exceed 10 meters (30’), and the crew's worst-case scenario was the clean-up once the vessel either arrived in Wellington or had grounded in shallower water. There was indication that the ship would even sail again that evening as usual, albeit later than scheduled while the damage done by the reef was repaired.


At about 13.15 hrs the combined effect of the tide and the storm swung WAHINE around, providing a patch of clear water sheltered from the wind. As she suddenly listed further and reached the point of no return, Robertson gave the order to abandon ship. In an instance similar to what had occurred during the sinking of the Italian passenger liner ANDREA DORIA off the coast of New England in 1956, the severe starboard list left the four lifeboats on the port side useless: only the four on the starboard side could be launched.

The first starboard motor lifeboat, boat S1, capsized shortly after being launched. Those aboard were thrown into the water, and many were drowned in the rough sea, including two children and several elderly passengers. Survivor Shirley Hick, remembered for losing two of her three children in the disaster, recalled this event vividly, as her three-year-old daughter Alma had drowned in this lifeboat. Some managed to hold onto the overturned boat as it drifted across the harbour to the eastern shore, towards Eastbourne.

The three remaining standard lifeboats, which according to a number of survivors were severely overcrowded, did manage to reach shore. Lifeboat S2 reached Seatoun beach on the western side of the channel with about 70 passengers and crew, as did Lifeboat S4, which was severely overcrowded with over 100 people. Heavily overcrowded Lifeboat S3 landed on the beach near Eastbourne, about 3 miles (5 km) away on the opposite side of the channel.

WAHINE launched her life rafts, but waves up to 6 metres (20’) high capsized some of them and many people were killed. She sank in 38’ (12 m) of water, forcing hundreds of passengers and crew into the rough sea. When the weather cleared, the sight of her foundering in the harbour urged many vessels to race to the scene, including the ferry GMV ARAMOANA, tugs, fishing boats, yachts and small personal craft. They rescued hundreds of people. Over 200 passengers and crew reached the rocky shore of the east side of the channel, south of Eastbourne. As this area was desolate and unpopulated, many survivors were exposed to the elements for several hours while rescue teams tried to navigate the gravel road down the shoreline. It was here that a number of bodies were recovered.
At about 14.30 hrs WAHINE rolled completely onto her starboard side.
Some of the survivors reached the shore only to die of exhaustion or exposure. Fifty-one people died at the time, and two more died later from their injuries, 53 victims in all. Most of the victims were middle-aged or elderly, but included three children; they died from drowning, exposure or injuries from being battered on the rocks. Forty-six bodies were found; 566 passengers were safe, as were 110 crew, and six were missing.

Early hopes that she could be salvaged were abandoned when the magnitude of structural damage became clear. As the wreck was a navigational hazard, preparations were made over the next year to refloat her and tow her into Cook Strait for scuttling. However a similar storm in 1969 broke up the wreck, and it was dismantled (partly by the HIKITIA floating crane) where it lay.

(New Zealand 2018)
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D. v. Nieuwenhuijzen
 
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Re: WAHINE (N.Z.)

Postby aukepalmhof » Wed May 16, 2018 11:19 pm

2018 Wahine-Anniversary_MinSht.png
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For the 50th Anniversary of the loss of the New Zealander ferry WAHINI (the name means Maori woman or wife.) the New Zealand post issued a set of stamps and a miniature sheet. The New Zealand post did give by the issues:
In the early hours of the morning on 10 April 1968, Wellington Harbour was encroaching on the near horizon. With the wind blowing at 50 knots, a common stiff breeze in Wellington terms, Captain Robertson made the decision to enter the narrow entrance to the harbour. On entering, the wind suddenly picked up and dramatically increased to a powerful 100 knots. Huge waves slammed the ship, forcing it towards Barrett Reef. With the radar system having failed, the Captain attempted to manoeuvre the ship back out to sea.
The storm continued to wreak havoc, dragging the ship along the reef, causing further damage, and preventing rescuers from approaching it. Its ferocity also delayed the captain’s decision to abandon ship, as he believed that people would be safer on board.
The first survivors began washing up on Seatoun foreshore, and others were plucked out of the water by boats waiting nearby. Most of those tossed into the waves were swept to Eastbourne’s rocky foreshore, where slips prevented rescuers reaching them quickly, and many suffered through being exposed to the harsh, deteriorating conditions. Many would ask how such a tragedy could occur right on the doorstep of the nation's capital. But it did and while a storm raged, many of the people in Wellington at the time went to watch the foundering of the WAHINE unfold. News reports quickly spread across the country making this one of the most documented tragedies of our time. These stamps show the WAHINE in all her glory and the sequence of how the day played out. The newspaper headings on the stamps are fictitious but acknowledge the role media played in telling the story.
Individual Stamps

$1.00 - World's Finest Drive-on Vessel
The WAHINE as photographed by Warwick Pryce during a berthing manoeuvre in Wellington Harbour. Described by the Union Steamship Company as the world’s finest drive-on passenger vessel, the WAHINE could carry around 1,000 passengers and 200 cars, servicing the Wellington to Lyttelton route for 20 months before she foundered.

$1.00 - WAHINE in Trouble
When the full force of Cyclone Giselle struck Wellington early in the morning of 10 April the WAHINE was on the final leg of the journey from Lyttelton to Wellington. As the ship reached the entrance to Wellington Harbour she lost control and was soon forced onto Barrett Reef, taking on water through a large hole below the waterline.

$2.00 - Waiting to Abandon Ship
Sharon Major and daughter Sarah with husband Murray, waiting to evacuate from the WAHINE. More than six hours elapsed between the first striking of Barrett Reef and the eventual order to abandon ship, with passengers holding onto hope the WAHINE would remain floating. They would be given the order to evacuate early afternoon when the starboard list became too much.

$2.20 - Lifeboats Make Land
As the WAHINE listed heavily to starboard the lifeboats on the port side of the vessel became inoperable, leaving just four starboard lifeboats able to be launched. The first of these would be swamped soon after entering the harbour waters, the remaining three overcrowded boats reaching the shore at Seatoun and Eastbourne.

$2.70 - Hundreds Rescued from Wellington Harbour
As the light improved and the weather cleared the predicament of the WAHINE reached rescuers in Wellington, with many vessels racing to the scene to pluck survivors from the harbour. Others reached the rocky coast of Eastbourne by themselves, or were carried onto Seatoun foreshore. Here policeman Ray Ruane holds a young survivor by the jetty, surrounded by other police and members of the public.

$3.30 – ARANUI Passes WAHINE Wreck
The WAHINE would roll over to starboard for the last time mid-afternoon, and lay on the sea floor in thirty-eight feet of water. Salvage operations were underway within two weeks, but the magnitude of the damage made a full recovery impossible, and plans were made to tow the wreck into Cook Strait. Before that could happen a second powerful storm in 1969 would break the hull up, and further salvage took place where she lay.
aukepalmhof
 
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