+++ # press conference: Ship started listing after leaving port, Pilot & Master jointly made decision to save crew & vessel by grounding her on bank +++
Julian Bray writes: Why on earth would a Germany bound car transporter, the oceangoing ship MV 'Hoegh Osaka' leave the safety of a well established navigation channel, and end up like a beached whale on the notorious Bramble Bank sandbank in the Solent?
The local Marine Pilot would have been on board, and unless there was a major steering malfunction or mechanical failure - will have a lot of questions to answer and a possible career change!
Like an aircraft, the ship also has the marine version of the black box data recorder usually positioned near the bow of the ship on the open deck and the unit is around five times larger than the aircraft version.
That is the situation just off the Isle of Wight in the Solent, the latest in a series of marine related incidents. During the hours of darkness, 25 crew members were taken off and salvagers winched on board. Looking at the latest images the degree of list (or tilt) would seem to be over 45% and unless that can be reduced - if not supported by the shifting sandbank - could see the whole vessel keel right over. At the moment, she isn't taking on water.
The cargo of cars has clearly shifted to the starboard side, sadly many car transporter operators don't full secure their loads as they once did. Its a calculated risk as the operation takes time and would possibly mean a late departure/arrival. We have yet to find out.
If this carries on for any length of time and the experts are already talking of weeks, the stress placed on the hull will twist or rupture the ship. So it really is now a race against time.
What can be done?
Essentially to float the 51,000 tonnes vessel off the sandbar means that first the stricken ship needs to be righted, so following lines being attached and a series of powerful salvage tugs taking the strain, decreasing the list by a good percentage, then dredging a deep channel alongside the ship becomes an option and effectively rolling the vessel into it, but that requires almost perfect weather, so unlikely.
The next option is to call up giant floating cranes, the Dutch seem to have cornered the market and it'll take days to have them positioned. Expensive... but a prime option.
The cargo could be offloaded to lighten the ship? Unlikely as weather conditions are too rough this time of year, and it would mean opening the watertight doors to remove the vehicles one by one by sea crane. Dangerous.
Attach flotation chambers 'bousons' ? The shifting sandbank would mitigate against this, as again the ship is stranded on the sandbar, and gently digging itself in with each tide.
Drag it off. Risky but possible if enough lines can be secured on board but also dangerous as the lines or cables have been known to violently whiplash if they break under strain.
Leave it? A possibility and an ever visible marker of a notorious sandbank, only all fuel and oils would have to be drained and the wreck anchored. Simply its not going to be a quick and easy resolution.... and it is right by a major shipping channel..
JULIAN BRAY 01733 345581, Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Operations, Travel / Cruise Industry Expert, EQUITY, NUJ, Broadcast ISDN 01733 345020 SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe > Updates are on the Website