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Stranded vessel to be stabilised

Salvors intend to start stabilising a car carrier which became stranded near to a busy shipping lane before any further work takes place.

They managed to board the Hoegh Osaka this morning after severe weather conditions made it too unsafe to start work yesterday, a Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) spokeswoman said.

The 51,000-tonne ship, which has a cargo of 1,400 cars and 105 pieces of construction equipment, was beached deliberately on Bramble Bank sandbank, near Southampton, on January 3 after it began listing as it left the Hampshire port.

It floated free from the sandbank on the high tide on Wednesday and has since been anchored at a spot two miles east called Alpha Anchorage near Lee-on-the-Solent.

The MCA spokeswoman said that yesterday's weather had prevented any activity on the vessel other than to connect a third tug.

She said: "Unfortunately, during the afternoon, one of the two tugs already in place moved from her position and collided with the Hoegh Osaka.

"There were no injuries to personnel but the tug received some damage and it was replaced by another tug.

"No pollution occurred during this incident.

"The main concern at the moment is the weather and the forecast for continuing high winds in the coming week.

"Plans are being refined to meet the challenges this presents."

She said salvors Svitzer now intended to start ballasting work before pumping the 3,000 tonnes of water out of the vessel.

She added: "They have managed to board the ship today and will ensure the pump is working, but they will also look at the ballast system."

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