Kestrel ferry 'looks like a bomb has hit it'

  • 10/03/2016
The Kestrel ferry has been described as a tragedy for Auckland and the city's history (Newshub / Briar Marbeck)
The Kestrel ferry has been described as a tragedy for Auckland and the city's history (Newshub / Briar Marbeck)

The former Auckland ferry Kestrel is unlikely to be restored after suddenly sinking at its berth and being crushed underwater.

The 111-year-old ferry suddenly sank at the Wynyard Wharf on Tuesday morning.

The ship's owners, the Kestrel Restoration Society, had been planning to restore the vessel to working order.

A crane was lifting pieces out of the water today.

"It looks bad. It's all coming to the surface in pieces, and it looks like a bomb has hit it," said society chairman Mike Alston.

The sinking was a tragedy for Auckland and the city's history, he told NZ Newswire.

Even though it sank in calm conditions, there were enormous forces underwater that would break it up.

"The superstructure is basically rubbish, it's all over."

Mr Alston said he would be surprised if the Kestrel was restored again, given the five years it took to get traction for the project when it was in one piece.

The hull was being held down by the engine but the 170-tonne weight meant any crane capable of lifting it would be too heavy for the wharf.

Engineers would have to come up with something clever -- perhaps involving buoyancy devices -- to raise it.

Mr Alston said the hull had been sound.

It wasn't clear what caused the sudden sinking, but the insurance assessors would be looking at it.

"If someone caused the Kestrel to sink, it could be another vessel hitting it, they will be going for them for that cost.

"I'm not saying I suspect foul play but it's possible."

The vessel, which had been pulled up for repairs a few years ago, was insured for recovery of the wreckage, but not to be restored to its original condition.

Before Tuesday, the Kestrel had been the last of about 30 double-ended Waitemata Harbour ferries still afloat and had spent more than a century transporting passengers.

NZN