Three years after it was launched, Greymouth-affiliated naval boat the HMNZS Hawea is still not able to make it into port because it cannot get across the bar.

Although it has adopted the three West Coast towns as its 'home ports', it has only ever docked in Westport.

Defence Force media adviser Lieutenant Commander Ange Barker said the naval planning team had gone over the calculations for entry into Greymouth and found the 'under-keel clearance' left only 0.6m across the Grey River bar. That was well below both navy and Port of Greymouth rules.

Mrs Barker said the bar had always been a well known problem, but the decision would be reviewed if new information came to light, such as the bar being dredged again.

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Greymouth Port harbour supervisor Ian Haussmann said they urged ships to come in at high tide but it was up to the individual skippers and some were wary of crossing the bar.

Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn said the Greymouth Port had seen regular large coal ships enter including the Titoki, Kokiri, Pusan and Puriri, although that was when the river was still being dredged.

Mr Kokshoorn said Westport would be seen as a safer option because it was wider than the Grey River.

Hawea commanding officer Lieutenant Carl Barker was in Westport for Anzac Day and expressed an interest in renewing the ship's charter for the three home ports associated with the ship.

- The Greymouth Star