Move Logistics says it has commissioned a new US$12 million ($20m) 'roll-on roll-off' freight vessel to be built at a Vietnamese shipyard as part of its government-funded move into coastal shipping. 

Executive director Chris Dunphy said the new vessel, designed by a naval architect and built at an undisclosed shipyard in Vietnam, will be brought into service during the first quarter of next year.

Dunphy said the vessel will be able to berth wheeled cargo, including containers, into at least 13 New Zealand ports, without the need for any port upgrade. 

It will sail under the NZ flag as part of its agreement with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport – which has fronted with $10m in funding for the NZ stock exchange-listed company.

That's part of $30m in funding to help bolster NZ's coastal fleet. Other recipients include Swire Shipping, Westland Mineral Sands and Coastal Bulk Shipping.

Despite its island status, local coastal shipping now accounts for only about 11m tonnes of NZ's cargo freight, or about 4% of the total freight tonnage of 278.7m tonnes, according to a report commissioned by Waka Kotahi last year.

More ships needed

Dunphy said the group will also look to put another vessel into the coastal delivery routes if it proves successful. 

He said the vessel will initially run on traditional fuel, but the "game changer" is that it's been designed with fuel tanks for conversion to methanol. That, he said, will only be once a suitable engine becomes available.

"But even without the methanol engine, it's very fuel-efficient and burns only four tonnes a day of fuel."

The 3,000-tonne ship also has tanks below deck for transporting edible oils, fuel and resins.

Dunphy said the New Plymouth-based group had a lot of traffic moving between the Nelson-Marlborough and Taranaki regions, so this was about "taking trucks off the road." Its initial sailing roster would transport about 30 trucks a day.

Move oceans

The general manager of the company's new Move Oceans division, Dale Slade, said the new vessel will provide a "reliable mode of transport" and help with Waka Kotahi's carbon reduction targets.

The commissioning follows Move's purchase of the 100-metre, 25-year-old Malta-registered general cargo ship Atlas Wind to ply the trans-Tasman route.

That vessel, now servicing European routes, recently came out of dry dock and has been re-certified by Lloyd's Register.

Slade said that the vessel's maiden delivery later this year, will be for fish feed, from Tasmania to NZ aquaculture and seafood companies.