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Roll-on, roll-off at Northport

Chief executive says unscheduled call by the Istra Ace demonstrates Northport’s ability to receive and handle car carriers.
Posted on 17 February, 2022
Roll-on, roll-off at Northport

A pure car and truck carrier (PCTC) has called into Northport, but there’s no need for vehicle importers to despatch transporters to Marsden Point.

The Istra Ace berthed at the port near Whangarei on February 16 to load about 5,000 cubic metres of triboard from Juken Mill in Kaitaia.

The vessel sailed in from South America and is destined for Japan. She is scheduled to depart Northport late today or early on February18.

PCTCs are purpose-built to transport different types of rolling cargo such as cars and trucks, heavy construction equipment and other significant loads. 

These vessels are usually configured with 10-13 decks for the loading of different vehicle types with axle loads from 1.2 tonnes to more than 22t. 

The triboard – three-layered panel with a wood strand core sandwiched between an MDF outer “skin” – is being loaded on the Istra Ace’s main cargo deck, which is designed for heavy loads. It is providing the vessel with a “backload” to Japan rather than having to sail the entire route empty. 

A fleet of four trucks operating in rotation have been driving loads of the cargo up the vessel’s stern ramp into the ship where they are then unloaded. There the cargo is stowed and secured by Northport staff and equipment.

Jon Moore, chief executive of Northport, says the unscheduled call by the Istra Ace demonstrates the port’s ability to receive and handle car carriers and roll-on, roll-off vessels.

“We have been talking to vehicle importers for some years now about how they could restructure and future-proof their business model using Marsden Point as a single hub for vehicle arrival, storage, preparation and distribution,” he adds.

“We have used our port and harbour simulator to demonstrate how we might handle vessels such as this, so we’re looking forward to putting the modelling into practice.”