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Cargo ship 'was grounded to save crew and vessel'

By Scott D'Arcy

A car carrier stranded next to a busy shipping lane was grounded deliberately to prevent it from capsizing, its owners have said.

The 51,000 tonne Hoegh Osaka became stricken on the Bramble Bank between Southampton and the Isle of Wight last night after it sailed from the Hampshire port with its cargo of 1,400 cars.

The incident prompted a major rescue operation with the 24 crew members and a pilot having to be taken to safety by Coastguard helicopter and RNLI lifeboats.

The salvage operation is expected to take days, possibly weeks.

A 200m exclusion zone has been set up around the Singapore-registered ship to prevent small vessels interfering with the tugs and other shipping.

Ingar Skiaker, CEO of Hoegh Autoliners which owns the vessel, said that no oil had leaked.

He 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.

"It is too early to speculate on the cause of the list but we're starting an immediate investigation."

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