A cargo ship carrying a load of new cars out of Southampton has run aground in the English Channel in between England and the Isle of Wight. The vessel apparently suffered some sort of failure just 45 minutes after leaving port that caused it to list heavily to the starboard side before the crew deliberately beached it on Bramble Bank to prevent the ship from capsizing altogether.
The vessel, called the Hoegh Osaka, is a 590-foot car carrier weighing some 57,000 tons and registered in Singapore. Although several automakers (including Honda
) were reportedly looking into whether they had cars on board, the vessel is said to have been filled to approximately one-third its capacity, with 1,400 vehicles on board – including 1,200 Jaguar
and Land Rover
vehicles, 65 Mini
models and one Rolls-Royce Wraith
. 70 to 80 pieces of construction equipment were also said to be on board. The Hoegh Osaka was en route from the southern British port of Southampton to Bremerhaven, Germany.
Fortunately, no major injuries have been reported. The crew was mostly airlifted by helicopter off of the beached ship, with two crew members evacuated by lifeboat. One crew member reportedly jumped over 25 feet off the ship into the water before being immediately retrieved by rescue workers. According to the Daily Mail
, two crew members were treated for non-life-threatening injuries, including a broken leg.
It may take several days, if not longer, to extract the vessel from the sand bank and ascertain the damage to the ship and its cargo. An early attempt to free the ship with tugboats failed, meaning that the Maritime and Coastguard Agency may have to wait until more favorable high tides to try again before towing the ship back into the port.
Bramble Bank, where the vessel was run aground, is a well-known obstacle to maritime navigators. The Queen Elizabeth 2 ran aground there in November 2008 with 1,700 passengers on board, but was quickly freed by four tugboats and was able to continue on its way. Two local yacht clubs also play a cricket match there every year at low tide. The vessel's operator, Hoegh Autoliners, praised the skill and quick thinking of the crew in acting to prevent the ship's capsizing by running her aground on the soft, sandy shoal.