THE ALBATROS is returning to New Zealand’s Port Taranaki next week to carry out biennial maintenance dredging of the shipping channel.

The removal of sand and sediment build-up, which is driven into the port by the predominant current and wave action that hits the Main Breakwater, ensures the shipping channel and berth pockets remain clear and safe for trade.

The Albatros will begin work on 9 January, and the campaign is expected to run for six-eight weeks.

Port Taranaki general manager of infrastructure John Maxwell said a hydrographic survey would be completed before the start of the dredging campaign to establish the areas of focus.

“We expect a maximum of about 400,000 cubic metres of material will be removed during the campaign,” he said.

“The Albatros will operate during daylight hours, seven days a week, and the captured material will be dropped at sites within Port Taranaki’s consented areas.

“The offshore area is about two kilometres out from the port, and the inshore area is along the coast, about 900 metres off the Todd Energy Aquatic Centre. Following research several years ago, the inshore area was specifically chosen to help replenish the sand on the city’s beaches.”

The Albatros is a trailing suction hopper dredge owned and operated by Dutch Dredging.

Last August, the Albatros carried out a further short dredging campaign at Port Taranaki after a survey detected abnormal amounts of sand and sediment had been pushed into the harbour from severe storms and other weather events earlier in the year.