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Napier Port's new 6 Wharf will officially open for business next month after passing its first test over the weekend – the safe berthing of a 290m container ship.

The CMA CGM Marlin was piloted into Napier Port on Saturday morning as part of the wet commissioning stage of construction - testing the new MoorMaster vacuum mooring system.

Napier Port chief executive Todd Dawson said a container ship arriving at the new 350m wharf was a sight many years and immeasurable hard work and planning in the making. "The CMA CGM Marlin is only a few centimetres short of being the longest container ship calling to Napier Port, so it is fitting that she was the first ship to test our newest berth and our MoorMaster infrastructure," he said.

Napier Port expects 6 Wharf, which can handle larger ships thanks to its length and 13m-deep berth pocket, to increase capacity and productivity at the port. "The new wharf not only future-proofs Hawke's Bay's regional growth, it also opens up further growth opportunities and shipping options for cargo owners and customers across the central and lower North Island," continued Dawson.

Cavotec, the manufacturer of the MoorMaster system, has sent a team to manage the wet commissioning process and train Napier Port's mooring staff on the new technology. Cavotec country manager David Williams said the automated vacuum pads are able to moor and release vessels in seconds with full remote-control access available out on the wharf using a tablet device. "The system dramatically improves safety and operational efficiency, optimises the ship-to-shore interface, and also helps to reduce emissions during ship berthing due to reduced use of tugs and ship engines," he said.

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Each of the 10 MoorMaster units can secure up to 40 tonnes and feature tidal gauges and high-tech sensors that allow the system to hold a vessel safely in place while continually making automated adjustments to mitigate swell and weather conditions.

Napier Port has also gone live with its – and New Zealand's first official – High Density Electronic Navigation Chart alongside the wet commissioning process.
This new navigation chart, which provides greater detail than normal, was used by Napier Port's marine pilots to safely navigate the first vessel through the new Tareha navigation channel into port last week.