Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Operation to free Hoegh Osaka cargo ship under way

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Media captionRNLI volunteer Tom Pederson: "Not a rescue we go to every day"

A major operation is under way to free a car transporter ship that ran aground in the Solent, off the Isle of Wight.

The Hoegh Osaka was heading to Germany when it ran on to the Bramble Bank, in the entrance to Southampton Water, at about 21:30 GMT on Saturday.

The coastguard said 25 crew members were rescued from the vessel.

Hoegh Autoliners said it was "currently assessing damage and stability issues on board".

The ship's owner said one of the crew members was taken to hospital with non life-threatening injuries.

Three senior officers stayed on board but have now been taken ashore.

Image copyright NPAS-Bournemouth
Image caption The ship ran aground 50 minutes after setting sail from Southampton

HM Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) Operations Centre commander Steve Carson said: "The salvage operations have commenced. Not the removal of the vessel but the plans for its removal.

"The owners have appointed salvage operators and did so quite swiftly."

Controller Andrew Jenkins said: "What they'll probably do is do some assessments of the vessel, check the hull, make sure there's no ingress of water, and the integrity of the hull is intact.

"Then they'll look at the best ways of removing the vessel, whether that's via refloating it on the next tide, or having to bring in other equipment to remove it."

The MCA said there was no reported pollution from the vessel, but that its Counter Pollution Team was monitoring the situation.

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Media captionPeter Davies, Solent Coastguard: Rescue operation "complex"

The vessel was not in a shipping channel, so there is no impact on other ships in the area, it added.

Svitzer, a salvage company, is on its way to the scene to make an initial assessment.

The MCA said it would not speculate on how the ship ran aground.

Dr Simon Boxall, an oceanographer at Southampton University, said the circumstances were unclear.

He said: "The weather conditions yesterday were very good… relatively light winds, visibility was fantastic."

Marine salvage expert John Noble said: "Clearly she left the channel. What we can't speculate on at this stage is why.

"The Bramble Bank is well known for being a difficult stretch of water so everyone is on the alert.

"Having this ship here is not at all helpful but it will remind people what the danger is.

"There's been a succession [of ships running aground], the most famous being the QE2 on her final voyage into Southampton [in 2008].

"She was fortunately refloated straight away. We haven't seen that here."

Image copyright NPAS-Bournemouth
Image caption Thermal cameras captured the 45 degree list from the air

Solent Coastguard Peter Davies described the rescue as a "complex" operation and said the crew were in "definite danger".

The 180m (590ft) vessel, which was carrying a combination of vehicles, can be seen from Cowes, listing at 45 degrees.

Hampshire Constabulary said car parks along the coast by Calshot were "extremely busy" as people were keen to get a view of the stricken vessel.

"We're monitoring the traffic situation around all vantage points," a spokesman said.

In a statement, Hoegh Autoliners said the ship "suffered a heavy list earlier yesterday evening after leaving Southampton Port".

It said: "The crew have been taken to HMS Daedalus at Stubbington by helicopter [and] the Marine Accident Incident Branch (MAIB) has been informed.

"The crew confirmed the vessel was not taking in any water."

A spokesman said an operation to re-float the ship was under way and it was not "a lost cause".

Four RNLI Lifeboats as well as the Solent Coastguard helicopter were involved in the rescue.

The transporter, registered in Singapore, set sail from Southampton at about 20:20.

An annual cricket match takes place in the area where the ship ran aground as the sands are exposed in low spring tides.

Image caption The cargo ship ran aground on Bramble Bank on Saturday evening

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