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March 17, 2003

New Zealand detains P&O Cruises ship
The New Zealand Maritime Safety Authority is continuing inspections on the P & O cruise ship Pacific Sky today, following its unscheduled return to Auckland on Saturday, March 15 2003 with reports of the ship taking on water.
"The MSA went on board Pacific Sky yesterday and preliminary investigations revealed significant corrosion associated with one of the several internal ducting systems of the ship. This appears to threaten the watertight integrity of part of the ship and seems the most likely cause of the ingress of water during the last voyage," says Russell Kilvington, Director of Maritime Safety.

"Our focus today is on taking a look at the rest of the ship to determine whether this is an isolated problem or if there are other areas which will require repair."

"We are working with the ship's operator and the classification society to carry out further inspections as quickly as possible, but the safety of the ship, its passengers and crew is the MSA's primary concern."

"Pacific Sky will not return to its cruise schedule until repairs are carried out to the satisfaction of the MSA," says Mr Kilvington.

When Pacific Sky returned to Auckland on Saturday, the MSA placed the ship under detention and this will need to be formally lifted before it is allowed to leave port.

According to press reports, passengers boarding the ship in Auckland last Wednesday, noticed workmen welding a metal section to the hull as they embarked. The 46,000-tonne vessel appeared to be on a lean at Princes Wharf, allowing welders to work on the port side without dipping below the waterline, the New Zealand Herald reports one passenger as saying.

The New Zealand Herald says the ship made an unannounced u-turn on Thursday night, about 30 hours into the voyage and halfway to Tonga, but the passengers were not notified until 10.00 AM the next day.

The paper quotes a tour operator as saying he he had been told by Australian passengers who arrived on the ship from a cruise around New Zealand that they got their feet wet from water in the ship's below-decks cinema, a claim the cruise line reportedly denied.

"One woman, on D-deck just above the theater, told her husband on her return to Auckland that she heard water sloshing around below," says the newspaper.

A P&O spokesperson in Auckland, Theresa Platon, told the newspaper "at no time was water lapping at people's feet."

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