THE boss of a firm whose ship is listing in the Solent said thank you to all those that helped rescue crew from the vessel.
Ingar Skiaker, chief executive of Hoegh Autoliners, spoke at a press conference held in Southampton this evening.
It comes after one of its vessels – the 51,000-tonne Hoegh Osaka – tipped on to its side near the Isle of Wight on Saturday night.
As well as thanking the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), he also said the master and pilot of the ship made the decision to ground the vessel after it started to list as soon as it left Southampton Port.
Mr Skiaker said: ‘I would like to thank all those involved, everybody involved took part in a challenging rescue.
‘I would like to thank the MCA and the RNLI as all the crew were rescued safely – our concern was with the safety of the crew.
‘Our vessel developed a severe list shortly after she left port and the pilot and the master took the decision to save the vessel and its crew by grounding her on the bank.
‘This showed great skill and seamanship on behalf of our crew when faced with such challenging circumstances.
‘At this stage it is too early to speculate on the cause of the list but we are starting an immediate investigation.
‘Right now we have serious work ahead of us in order to free the vessel from the Bramble Bank without disrupting the flow of traffic in and out of the port of Southampton.
‘An investigation is ongoing as to what occurred last night and that is being conducted by the Marine Accident Incident Branch.’
A cause for the list has not been given, but it was revealed the ship was one-third full and was carrying 1,400 cars which were a mix of prestige and standard cars.
It cannot be confirmed if any of the cargo has moved since the ship began to list.
The vessel has 500 tonnes of fuel on board and Hugh Shaw, of the MCA, said that no oil has spilt into the sea and ‘its intention is to keep it this way’.
He said: ‘The salvage company Svitzer is making assessments and is reporting a list of about 52 degrees.
‘This is substantial and difficult to get on board and work.
‘This won’t be a quick incident and the salvors will be assessing for a few days.
‘No fuel has been split and it is our intention to keep it this way.’
Mr Shaw said the MCA has put in a 200-metre exclusion zone around the ship so smaller vessels will not hinder tug boats around it.
It is likely the ship will remain in the sea for at least a week.