The vessel’s owners have recently appointed Svitzer to lead the salvage operation

A Höegh Osaka car carrier was deliberately run aground on the Bramble Bank off Cowes to avoid it capsizing, a press conference was told on Sunday evening.

According to Höegh Autoliners CEO Ingar Skiaker, the vessel’s pilot made the decision to ground the ship at around 9.30pm on Saturday after it began listing severely.

Mr Skiaker said at the press conference on Sunday: “At this stage it’s too early to speculate on the
cause. All we know is that the vessel developed a severe list as it left the Port of Southampton and the pilot and master of ship decided to ground it on the bank.

“They showed great skill and seamanship and had to make quick decisions.”

All 24 people onboard were rescued from the stricken ship later that night by coastguard helicopter and RNLI lifeboats.

Two crew were taken to hospital with minor injuries following the incident, with one believed to have suffered a broken leg.

Volunteer Calshot RNLI helmsman Tom Pedersen said: “This is not the sort of call out you expect on a Saturday evening but we had a brilliant response from the RNLI volunteer crews and all the other agencies involved, resulting in the successful rescue of all the ship’s crew.

“Fortunately, the rescue helicopters managed to winch most of the crew to safety in quite challenging conditions, while two people were rescued by the Calshot RNLI lifeboats.

“One of them leaped around 8m from the ship into the water and was picked up immediately by our inshore lifeboat, the D-Class lifeboat Willet. The other was rescued from the bow of the ship.

A 200m exclusion zone is currently in place around the car carrier for safety reasons and the
Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s Counter Pollution Team continue to monitor the situation, but as of yet, there is no sign of pollution.

Höegh Autoliners have now appointed Svitzer to lead a salvage operation of the vessel.

Secretary Of State’s Representative for Maritime Salvage and Intervention Hugh Shaw said: “I am confident the vessel’s owners are working professionally and promptly and have appointed salvors who arrived on scene early this morning [Sunday] and have already started work to assess the
options for salvage and removal of the vessel.

“Further salvage personnel and salvage equipment is expected to arrive on scene tonight [Sunday]. Further assessments will be carried out over the next few days and these will assist the salvage team to formulate a suitable salvage plan.”

Despite the exclusion zone, ships are able to travel to and from Southampton unimpeded.

Picture credit: Maritime and Coastguard Agency