Tug boats have been able to secure a container vessel at the Timaru port after it broke its stern mooring this morning due to strong winds.

Phil Melhopt, PrimePort chief executive, commented that the 260 metre E.R. New York broke its stern mooring approximately at 11.30am, snapping a bollard in the process.

ER New York

Image: Hannes van Rijn

Melhopt added that the port recorded northwesterly gusts that reached speeds of up to 50 knots around the time of the accident.

The tug boats Aoraki and Timaru along with the pilot launch Ohau managed to push the container vessel (sailing under the Liberian flag) back against the dock not long afterwards.

Melhopt did nothing but praise the "excellent" pilot and appointed marine team for their "extremely quick" reaction to the situation.

PrimePort is tasked with the investigation of the incident and with repairing the bollard. It had also reported the incident to the Canterbury Harbourmaster.

Hydraulic engineer Craig Atwill saw the ship just after it came loose and his immediate thought was "this could turn out to be very bad". Atwill commented that the tugs and pilot launch reacted "very quick" in order to secure the vessel.

Melhopt added that the vessel was loaded and was just waiting for the strong winds to die down a little before departing from the port when the mooring broke.

He commented that it was "in the hands of Mother Nature" whether or not the winds would delay any further the vessel's departure and thus delay another vessel from docking.