The Cook Strait ferry Aratere will depart New Zealand on 13 April for Singapore for a revamp costing $40 million.
As part of the re-fit, Aratere will be cut in half at the Sembawang shipyards in Singapore and a new 30-metre long mid-body as well as a new bow installed. This will increase passenger capacity by about 300, vehicle capacity by 30 per cent, rail capacity by 27 per cent, and improve performance in rough weather.
The practice of upsizing cargo ships like this was common in the 1950s.
Interislander general manager Thomas Davis said that Strait Shipping's former freight and Bluebridge passenger ferry the Monte Stello has been leased for five months from the end of March, and will fill the gap while Aratere is away.
Mr Davis said the Aratere would stop operations on 10 April, leaving New Zealand 3 days later, and is expected to return into service in the second week of September in time for the Rugby World Cup and the seasonal increase in rail freight. "Staff have been outstanding in the efforts they have made to prepare for this, and I am confident that we will continue to operate efficiently and effectively throughout the absence of Aratere."
For extensive information about and great colour photos of this and all previous inter-island ferries, see the book Strait Crossing by Victor Young.