HELICOPTERS have been drafted in by the salvage company working on stricken car cargo ship the Hoegh Osaka.
Speaking at a press conference today, salvage operation manager Bram Sperling said his 15-strong crew would be flying from Daedalus, in Lee-on-the-Solent, to the 51,000-tonne car carrier.
The operation to right the 50 degree list on the ship has been hampered by bad weather, which combined with the position of the ship, has made it difficult for crew to board by sea.
Mr Sperling said his team were working in treacherous conditions to make the ship stable enough to bring it into Southampton dock.
Crew and equipment will be transferred onto the ship via air with transfers scheduled to start today, which were delayed due to high winds.
Mr Sperling said: ‘We will do everything we can but when the winds take over then the crew’s safety is our priority.’
Hugh Shaw, secretary of state’s representative for maritime salvage and intervention, said an air exclusion zone had been set up above the ship to assist the operation.
A 300m sea exclusion zone is still in place.
Mr Shaw said: ‘We are now in day 10 of the operation. We were talking early on that the entire operation would maybe take five to seven days. Since then the weather that has been coming through has not been helpful to us at all.’
Mike O’Neill, from the Environment Agency, said the risk to the environment was low, but that contingency plans such as oil booms to deflect oil away from sensitive areas were being put in place.
The Hoegh Osaka ran aground on Bramble Bank on Saturday, January 3 as it made its way out of Southampton dock.
It floated free from its position on Wednesday in high tides and came to a rest on Alpha Anchorage, near Lee-on-the-Solent.
Mr Sperling said if all went to plan then the ship would be returned to its upright position on Thursday and moved into Southampton early next week.
The marine accident investigation branch is still investigating the original cause of the list, which caused the pilot to purposely run the ship aground.
Picture by Jason Kay