Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Cargo ship Solent: Salvage team boards stranded vessel

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Media captionAdmiral Lord West, former Head of the Royal Navy: "I think there were around 1,400 rather expensive cars on board"

Salvage experts have boarded a cargo ship which is stranded in the Solent after it was deliberately run aground.

The Hoegh Osaka car transporter started listing shortly after leaving the Port of Southampton on Saturday evening and was grounded off the Isle of Wight.

A team from appointed salvors Svitzer boarded the ship earlier to assess the damage and formulate a salvage plan.

Experts predict the stranded vessel, now listing at 45 degrees, could take days to right.

Associated British Ports (ABP) Southampton said a 200m-radius (650ft) exclusion zone had been established around the vessel, until the salvage operation was completed.

The Maritime Coastguard Agency also said a one mile wide (1.6km) and 2,000ft high (600m) air exclusion zone was also in place.

ABP said tugs would remain near the cargo ship until it can be moved and will illuminate it when dark.

An investigation into why the vessel began listing has been launched.

All 25 crew members were rescued from the ship by the RNLI and coastguard.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The ship left the port in Southampton and began to list soon afterwards
Image copyright The Southern Daily Echo
Image caption JCBs destined for the Middle East are among the machinery on board the stranded vessel

There are 1,400 cars and 70 to 80 pieces of construction equipment on board the Hoegh Osaka.

A spokesman for Jaguar Land Rover said roughly 1,200 were its vehicles.

There are also 65 Mini cars on board, with an average retail price of £20,000.

A spokesman for JCB said there were 105 of their machines on board, destined for dealers in the Middle East.

"We are awaiting further information from the shipping carrier about the current status of the machines and any plans they may have for retrieval," he said.

He added the value of the products "runs into millions of pounds".

Capt John Noble, a marine salvage expert, said the cargo would undoubtedly be badly damaged.

There are also 500 tonnes of fuel on board, most of which is marine diesel oil. Experts plan to leave this safely aboard this ship for the time being.

The salvage team have equipment which can be used to siphon off oil if needed.

How do you refloat a 51,000 tonne ship?

Marine salvage expert Capt John Noble said: "At the moment the door is wide open on how they will do it.

"The tidal option is no longer possible as it is clear she is hard and fast where she is.

"It won't be as complex as the Costa Concordia and they used a leverage system there, which has been used in a number of cases.

"It can't be done using ballasts due to the angle but I am sure they are exploring the dredging option.

"This could be done as long as the seabed stays where it is, but Bramble Bank may wash back and forth. That could be a high risk option.

"The priority is making sure the fuel is safe and may well be removed, but the other issue is the hull giving way as she is in a position she is not designed for."

Hoegh Osaka cargo ship

  • Built: 2000

  • Registered: Singapore

  • Length: 180m

  • Cargo capacity: 5,400 car equivalent units

  • Carrying: 1,400 cars, other equipment

  • Max speed 19.2 knots


Ingar Skiaker, chief executive of Hoegh Autoliners, said: "Our vessel developed a severe list shortly after she left port and the pilot and the master took the decision to save the vessel and its crew by grounding her on the bank.

"This showed great skill and seamanship on behalf of our crew when faced with such challenging circumstances.

"At this stage it is too early to speculate on the cause of the list but we are starting an immediate investigation.

"Right now we have serious work ahead of us in order to free the vessel from the Bramble Bank without disrupting the flow of traffic in and out of the Port of Southampton.

"An investigation is ongoing as to what occurred last night and that is being conducted by the MAIB (Marine Accident Investigation Branch)."

Asked whether there were too many vehicles on board, Mr Skiaker replied: "No, the vessel was only one-third full."

Image copyright AP
Image caption The ship is at a 45 degree angle in the Solent
Image copyright PA
Image caption People gathered on the shore to see the stranded cargo ship
Image caption Plans for the salvage operation began as daylight dawned on the Solent
Image copyright Fred Battison
Image caption Many amateur photographers have been taking images of the scene

Hugh Shaw, of the MCA, said: "There has been no release of oil into the environment and we are determined to keep the situation that way - we are not looking for a quick fix here," he said.

The MCA said the vessel was not in a shipping channel, so there was no impact on other ships in the area.

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

One crew member is understood to have been pulled from the water during the rescue operation while the majority of the crew had made their way to the high side of the ship and were taken to safety.

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

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

The 51,000-tonne ship had been on its way to Germany when it developed a problem.

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Media captionThe BBC's Duncan Kennedy reports from a boat near the stranded ship

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