Fast turnaround and customer satisfaction are key
When something goes wrong with a big tuna purse-seiner up in the Western Pacific fishing grounds, time is of the essence to get repairs made so the boat can be back at sea, earning her keep. This was the case in late 2022 when the vessel Cape Cod, operated by US-based Cape Fisheries Management Company, developed an issue with her shaft in Samoa.
The company’s Director of Engineering, Mike Wisneske, explains that the nearest high-quality service was in New Zealand. “We had a shaft problem, but the boat was also due for her five-year survey. We’d worked with Diverse Engineering in the past and knew that they had the capability to deliver what we needed in a tight timeframe.
“The Cape Cod is part of what we call our distant waters tuna fleet, based in American Samoa. She’s about 60m in length, draws 21 feet and carries 950 tons of tuna which is normally landed anywhere in our designated fishing areas. Licensing fees to operate in our Treaty Waters can range between $5,000 a day to $13,500 a day, regardless of whether you’re catching fish, so it’s quite an expensive proposition.”
The repair was time-critical, with bad weather cutting time on the slipway from three days to only 48 hours in which to get the ship up for emergency work. The tail shaft had to be pulled and a blanking plate put in the hull before getting her back in the water. At that stage, Mike wasn’t sure of what other repairs might have to be made. He, staff from Diverse Engineering and the Cape Cod crew worked 36 hours straight to get the job done before the slip facilities were required by other clients.
Once she was back in the water a schedule of internal work was carried out including refitting of valves and pumps; straightening and balancing of the propeller; repairs to seals, pipework and steel; re-metalling of bearings, plus shell repairs to the engine room.
In addition, the anchor chain locker was completely refurbished and some shell plating on the bottom of the ship was replaced when she came out onto the slip again in January. Most of this work had to be completed during the holidays, so a short crew of 16 stayed on board (normally the Cape Cod would carry a crew of around 24) while the work was undertaken.
“Customer satisfaction is key with a job like this,” says Mike. “Firstly, the owner of the company, John Ashmore, is on top of it. You will see him involved in every aspect of the repairs, which is unusual for management structure in a company of this size.
“He thinks nothing of operating the crane, getting down to help with the steel, or working on the shaft. His knowledge is extensive, and he takes deadlines extremely seriously.
“He knew that we had a small window because of weather patterns that were developing that would affect the ship’s travel - at this time of year, it can be tricky in the Pacific and it’s a five-day run to Samoa. Diverse always sticks to the schedule, they don’t overrun and when it’s time to work overtime, they never have a problem with that.”
With the storm systems that hit New Zealand in early 2023, the country’s ferry sailings were disrupted when Diverse was awaiting parts that had been flown into Auckland for Cape Cod.
“We’d managed to obtain parts from overseas by air freight and then we couldn’t get them down to Nelson - the ship was waiting and we had a deadline. Diverse succeeded in making arrangements to get them here for us.
“It’s the little things that count, too. John had some tee-shirts printed with ‘Cape Cod Refit’ to give to the crew – it was a nice gesture and the guys really appreciated it. We’re looking forward to an ongoing working relationship with Diverse in the future.”