The vehicle carrier Hoegh Osaka was berthed safely in Southampton on 22 January following a 19-day salvage operation. Hoegh Osaka was deliberately put aground on the Bramble Bank between Calshot and Cowes after developing a severe list shortly after leaving Southampton, a decision made by the pilot and the ship’s master to save the vessel and her crew. With the ship aground and listing 52 degrees, the crew were taken off without injury by rescue helicopter.

Svitzer Salvage was contracted to carry out the salvage operation, and tugs were immediately engaged from Solent Towage and Svitzer. Initially, the ship was held in position on the Bramble Bank by the tugs while the situation was evaluated.

On 7 January the ship floated free from the sandbank and was towed to the Alpha deepwater anchorage, east of Cowes. Access to the ship and working conditions on board were very difficult due to the severe list. Pumps were put aboard by helicopter, and work started to remove 3,000 tonnes of water from the car deck and provide a means of controlling the water ballast. The list was eventually reduced to below the 15 degrees required for the tow to Southampton.

Throughout the operation, the tugs Vortex, Thorax and Lomax were on station, along with one Svitzer tug, latterly the chartered vessel Multratug 4. Also on scene throughout were a variety of work vessels. Most of Hoegh Osaka’s £60 million cargo of vehicles and heavy plant was undamaged. MJG

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