Salvors are currently working onboard the listing car carrier vessel Höegh Osaka, which ran into trouble outside the UK port of Southampton last week, to install two new pumps. If the weather permits, divers will also inspect the hull.
Although strong winds and storms are forecast around Southampton, the weather in the strait known as the The Solent – where the listing vessel is at anchor – is currently calm.
Höegh has said that the salvors, from salvage company Svitzer, will use a helicopter to transport them to and from the ship, but the operation is very dependant on the weather.
The vessel unexpectedly refloated itself on January 7 following its (reportedly deliberate) grounding on the Bramble Bank sandbar in The Solent following dangerous listing on departure from the port. It was subsequently moved a couple of miles east by two tugs to Alpha Anchorage, between East Cowes and Lee-on-the-Solent.
Last weekend, one of the tugboats holding the Osaka crashed into it during high winds, causing damage to the tug, which had to be replaced. An extra tug was connected to the vessel and the damaged tug has been repaired and is back on the scene.
Höegh said in a statement: “The salvors are confident what with the anchor and three tugs connected, the strong winds should not present a problem for holding the ship in place and have extensive contingency plans for any unexpected ship movements.”
Although there is a significant amount of water already inside the vessel, Höegh has said that is one of the reasons it remained stable, and is even considering pumping more water into the ship to increase stability.
No oil has leaked from the vessel, but there is a thin film of oil on the water inside the ship. Hoegh has said this will either be transferred to a barge at a later date, or kept onboard.
The cost of the operation remains unknown, along with the ultimate fate of the vehicles onboard.
In 2006, the Cougar Ace, carrying 4,703 Mazdas, lost stability and developed a 60-degree list. It remained that way for weeks, before being righted. Although the vehicles were strapped down, Mazda made the decision to scrap every vehicle, despite interest for the models, as the possible effect on the vehicles listing so severely for a significant amount of time was not known.
The Osaka is currently listing at more than 50-degrees.