Continuing saga of the Hoegh Osaka

The stricken Hoegh Osaka that has provided an extraordinary spectacle for people living on the UK south coast could soon be on the move back to port
The stricken Hoegh Osaka that has provided an extraordinary spectacle for people living on the UK south coast could soon be on the move back to port

The car transporter ship, Hoegh Osaka, was deliberately grounded following the decision made by the Captain and Pilot on Bramble Bank in the Solent early in January after it began to list heavily. The ship was only 50 minutes into its voyage from the port of Southampton and was carrying a full load of Landrover Jaguar cars and heavy duty construction equipment. It is felt that the quick thinking and decision making, taken to protect the lives of the 25 crew on bard, was courageous and correct.

At that time, the Hoegh Osaka was listing at more than 50 degrees and a salvage operation is expected to take several days. She became an instant tourist attraction for not only locals on the south coats, but also further afield. Such a sight as this is rarely seen.

The Hoegh Osaka then righted herself and was moved to a position off the coast near Lee-on-Solent, where she wan anchored and kept in place with the help of tugs. Since that time, the Hoegh Osaka has been in the news on a daily basis as the salvage experts consider how best to right the vessel and tow her back to safe haven in Southampton Docks. The inclement weather has not helped the process either.

Commenting on the current situation, Hugh Shaw, Secretary of State for Maritime and Salvage, said the list of the 51,000 tonne Hoegh Osaka has been reduced to 25 degrees from the 52 degrees it was leaning when it was first deliberately ran aground.

He said: “A further reduction in the vessel is due with management of ballast water in the ship once it has been reduced to 15 degrees.

“That may be in the next few hours.”

He also indicated that this will permit members of the Maritime Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) to board the Hoegh Osaka and begin their investigation as to why the vessel began experiencing problems.

Hugh Shaw was unable to confirm when the ship will be towed into Southampton Water saying the weather needs to be favourable. Thursday 22 January is offering favourable conditions, but Friday the weather worsens again.

Mr Shaw said: “It’s very difficult.

“Good progress is being made this morning but there is still a lot of hard work ahead. Having come this far and reduced the vessel by 25 degrees we are not going to rush it to meet particular deadlines. When the salvage master comes back to me and says its in a fit condition to move it we will have that discussion and I’ll give the green light from there. But with the windows and steps to be taken I can’t say with certainty.”

It is expected that a number of the original crew, including the captain, will re-board the Hoegh Osaka to help tie up the vessel at the dockside.

Trained pollution experts will be on standby during the operation to versee the Hoegh Osaka’s passage back to port.

Experts say that the Hoegh Osaka needs to be below 5 degrees before it is revover her back to Southampton Docks.But Mr Shaw said it will take ome time to move the vehicles and plant machinery onboard and to assess the damage.

So it is hoped that the saga of the Hoegh Osaka may be nearing a happy ending very soon, but whatever the outcome and whenever it happens, the south coast locals will remember the episode and extraordinary sith of the Hoegh Osaka listing heavily for a long time.

Read how the saga of the Hoegh Osaka successfully ended:
Immediate thoughts on the successful salvage operation of the Hoegh Osaka

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