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51,000 ton car carrier that ran aground in the Solent listing an astonishing 45 degrees

A car carrier which ran aground causing it to list heavily in a busy shipping lane is being assessed for stability before a salvage operation can be mounted.

The 25 crew members of the Hoegh Osaka were rescued by a coastguard helicopter and lifeboats after it became stranded on Bramble Bank, in the Solent between Southampton and the Isle of Wight, at about 9.20pm yesterday.

During the rescue operation, the 51,000-tonne Singapore-registered ship listed at 45 degrees.

One crew member is understood to have been rescued from the water while the majority of the crew had made their way to the high side of the ship and were taken to safety. Three senior officers stayed on board before being taken ashore.

HM Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said a helicopter mounted a rescue for the crew while RNLI lifeboats from Yarmouth, Calshot and Cowes were also sent to the scene.

National Maritime Operations Centre commander Steve Carson said: "All of the crew have been accounted for and other then a couple of non life-threatening injuries, everyone is safe and well."

A statement from the MCA said: "The crew who were on board the car carrier Hoegh Osaka have all now been accounted for. Some were airlifted off the ship by coastguard helicopter and others were rescued from the sea by the three lifeboats that were on scene."

The agency said the search and rescue mission was co-ordinated by the National Maritime Operations Centre at Fareham and the three crew members who remained on board the vessel to assist with salvage operations had been airlifted off.

It is not yet clear how the boat got into difficulty.

Mr Carson said plans for salvage of the 180-metre ship were under way and would not comment on how the ship ran aground.

He said: "The investigation will follow and the authorities have been informed at this time. I will not speculate on the circumstances.

"The salvage operations have commenced. Not the removal of the vessel but the plans for its removal. We will have to wait until daylight to fully assess. The owners have appointed salvage operators and did so quite swiftly."

A statement from Hoegh Autoliners, the ship's owner, said it was assessing the damage and stability of the vessel.

"Hoegh Autoliners' primary concern has been for the crew on board and it has been confirmed that one crew member has been injured and he was airlifted to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth with non life-threatening injuries," it said.

"The remaining crew have been taken to HMS Daedalus at Stubbington by helicopter and will be accommodated locally overnight. However, a small number of senior officers remain on board."

The Marine Accident Incident Branch (MAIB) has been informed.

Four tug boats attended and the crew confirmed the vessel was not taking in any water, the company added.

A spokesman said: "A salvage master has been appointed and Hoegh Autoliners are fully co-operating with all the authorities at this time to ensure the vessel remains safe. No pollution has been reported."

Bramble Bank is a well-known sandbank in Southampton Water and is the scene of an annual cricket match between two yachting clubs when the sands are exposed in low spring tides.

In November 2008, the Cunard liner Queen Elizabeth 2 with 1,700 passengers on board ran aground on Bramble Bank but was able to continue its journey on the rising tide after four tugs pulled it clear.

A high tide passed this morning leaving the carrier in place.

A spokeswoman for the MCA said: "The car carrier Hoegh Osaka remains grounded on the Bramble Bank in the Solent. All crew members were evacuated from the vessel overnight by coastguard rescue helicopter and RNLI lifeboats.

"There is no reported pollution from the vessel which remains listing at 45 degrees and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency's Counter Pollution Team will continue to monitor the vessel which is currently assessed as being stable.

"The vessel's owners have appointed the salvage company Svitzer and a salvage team is on its way to the scene today to make an initial assessment.

"Salvage plans will be developed by Svitzer and reviewed by the Secretary of State's Representative for Maritime Salvage & Intervention, (SOSREP).

"There is no impact on vessels transiting the Solent as the vessel is not within a shipping channel."

A RNLI spokesman said those taken off the ship included 24 crew members and two pilots. Some crew were airlifted from the vessel by the Lee-on-the-Solent Coastguard helicopter and the Rescue 169 helicopter from RAF Chivenor.

A Yarmouth RNLI crew member was winched aboard to help pull up casualties who were trapped on board.

Tom Pedersen, volunteer Calshot RNLI helmsman, 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 8 metres from the ship into the water and was picked up immediately by our inshore lifeboat. The other was rescued from the bow of the ship."

Initially, the captain, third mate and a vessel traffic service pilot were left on board but were airlifted to safety by the coastguard helicopter.

The stricken carrier has become a tourist attraction with car parks along the coast filling up with people wishing to view it.

Hampshire police posted advice to motorists on Facebook warning them that the area had become "extremely busy".

They said: "Good morning all, just a piece of friendly advice ... car parks along the coast by Calshot are extremely busy.

"This is due to people being interested in seeing the car transporter ship which has run aground.

"We're monitoring the traffic situation around all 'vantage points' and just wanted to make you aware."

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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