THE stricken Hoegh Osaka vessel is expected to be lifted upright by salvage crews this afternoon, it has been revealed.
The list of the car carrier stranded near to a busy shipping lane near Southampton has been reduced substantially, leading to hopes the vessel could be towed back to port in the next few days.
The 51,000-tonne ship Hoegh Osaka, which has a cargo of 1,400 cars and 105 pieces of construction equipment, was beached deliberately on Bramble Bank sandbank on January 3 after it began listing as it left the Hampshire port.
It floated free from the sandbank on the high tide on January 7, and has since been anchored at a spot two miles east called Alpha Anchorage, near Lee-on-the-Solent.
Hugh Shaw, the Secretary of State’s Representative for Maritime Salvage and Intervention (Sosrep), told a press conference at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) headquarters in Southampton that operations to pump the 3,000 tonnes of water from the car decks had now completed.
He explained this had now reduced the list from the original 52 degrees to about 25 degrees.
However, Mr Shaw said that the ship could not be moved until that list has reduced again to about five degrees.
He said: ‘The condition of the vessel remains stable and over the previous few days the list has decreased to 25 degrees which is about half of what she was on the first days of the incident.
He continued: ‘The removal of the water from the car decks has now been completed, any further reduction of the list will purely be from the management of the ballast water internally in the ship.’
Mr Shaw said that once the list was about 15 to 20 degrees, inspectors from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) would be allowed on board to examine the ship as part of their inquiry into the cause of the incident.
Then once further safety inspections had been carried out, and when the ship had reached a list of five degrees or less, the towing could commence.
He said the next weather and tidal windows would be tomorrow afternoon or Friday, otherwise the next opportunity would be Sunday.
Mr Shaw explained that the towing operation would involve four tugs with two pilots on board the ship with the ship’s captain and crew members which would guide the vessel to berth 101 at Southampton Port.
He added: ‘We are still looking at bringing the vessel upright as much as we can, for the tow we would like to get that below five degrees, anything above five degrees will make it difficult in the port to put the ramps out for the discharge of cargo.’