Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Cargo ship: Stricken Solent vessel 'held' overnight off Isle of Wight

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Media captionThe Hoegh Osaka was being held east of its grounding at Alpha Anchorage, between East Cowes and Lee-on-the-Solent

The cargo ship that has been stricken in the Solent since Saturday is being secured overnight after freeing itself from the sandbank.

The Hoegh Osaka was run aground on Bramble Bank on Saturday.

It "refloated" itself unexpectedly just before 14:00 GMT due to the tide and water being pumped out of the ship.

The vessel was towed two miles east in the Solent and will be held by two tugs until Thursday for a full assessment by salvage company Svitzer.

Image copyright @HantspolMarine
Image caption Three tug boats towed the vessel east

The Marine and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said the vessel had "self-floated at high water".

The ship was towed east of its grounding position to Alpha Anchorage, between East Cowes and Lee-on-the-Solent.

A temporary exclusion zone of 300m (984ft) was established around the vessel.

A full assessment of the ship's condition is expected to be carried out on Thursday.

The MCA spokesman said disruption to the Port of Southampton was minimal but added there would be "a slight restriction in traffic movements" until the Hoegh Osaka was clear of the main channel.

He said a closure of the port was not anticipated.

Image copyright Barrie Webb
Image caption A decision on the next phase of the salvage operation is due to be made after an assessment

Svitzer had hoped to refloat the vessel at high tide but this was delayed after the discovery of more water on the vessel.

BBC reporter Steve Humphrey watched from Calshot as the vessel freed itself from the sandbank.

He described how it "pirouetted round" and went "completely the other way round to how she was over the last few days", prior to being towed by three tug boats.

Image copyright @ISC_Cowes
Image caption The moving vessel could be seen from Cowes on the Isle of Wight
Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Salvage experts from Svitzer boarded the ship on Monday and began carrying out an assessment to form a rescue plan

At a press conference in Southampton on Tuesday, Bram Sperling of salvors Svitzer said there was some water inside because of a "small opening in the vessel" that had since been closed.

A refloat was the preferred option to avoid further damage to the ship from the sandbank.

A second option was to anchor it to the sandbank while plans were made to right its current position.

An MCA spokesman said on Tuesday calculations by the salvors had revealed more water had entered the vessel than previously thought.

Salvage experts from Svitzer boarded the ship on Monday and began carrying out an assessment to form a rescue plan.

Image copyright The Southern Daily Echo
Image caption JCBs destined for the Middle East are among the machinery on board the stranded vessel, shown before the ship left Southampton

Speaking at a press conference after the grounding, Ingar Skiaker, chief executive of Hoegh Autoliners, said the crew deliberately ran the ship aground to avoid further damage.

There are 1,400 cars on board, including 1,200 Jaguar and Land Rover products and 65 Minis, as well as 105 JCB machines.

The ship is also carrying 500 tonnes of fuel, most of which is marine diesel oil. Experts plan to leave this aboard for the time being, as it has been secured and poses no risk to the environment.

Two crew members out of 25 rescued by RNLI Lifeboats and the Solent Coastguard on Saturday suffered non-life threatening injuries.

Two senior officers and a pilot stayed on board before being taken ashore.

The 51,000-tonne transporter, registered in Singapore, set sail from Southampton for Germany at about 20:20 GMT on Saturday.

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