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Jubilee Dock, near Aotea Quay, Wellington – 1935

Jubilee Dock was a floating ‘dry’ dock used to lift ships up to 17,000 tons out of the water for maintenance.

Built in England for the Wellington Harbour Board, our new Jubilee Dock was 178m long, 36 m wide and could lift ships displacing 17,000 tons. Two Dutch tugs undertook the record 22,000km tow, via the Suez Canal, which began 15 July 1931. The dock’s 11-man crew lived on board.

Excitement grew as the dock neared. Wellingtonians could accompany it from the Heads by ferry for 1s 6d, or view it from the air for £1. Thousands more watched from the shore.

The dock entered the harbour on the afternoon of 28 Dec 1931 and anchored that evening. Next morning it was moved to a purpose-built dock near Aotea Quay. Later that day it slipped its temporary moorings in a northerly gale but was secured by the Dutch tugs.

Its first lift, of the Ruahine, was made on 2 April 1932.

However, it proved too small for modern container ships and In Dec 1988 the port tugs Kupe, Toia and Ngahue shifted the Jubilee dock a few metres to nearby Aotea Quay, the first time it had moved in 57 years. It was sold in 1989 to a Thai-based shipyard and was to be taken overseas, Whilst underway to Bangkok, in the first leg of the voyage, it broke in two and sank, in separate stages, into the Tasman Sea.

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