January 30, 2015
On the 3rd January 2015 at 21:30, the Singapore flagged HOEGH OSAKA car carrier cargo vessel was leaving Southampton with 24 crew members and a pilot onboard for a routine voyage to Bremerhaven, Germany.
Shortly after leaving the Port of Southampton whilst navigating Southampton Waters the HOEGH OSAKA began listing. The decision was made by the pilot and the master of the ship to ground the vessel on the Bramble Bank. This quick decision shows what good seamanship can do to improve a situation and prevent what could have been a maritime disaster.
HOEGH OSAKA was carrying 1,400 vehicles, including 1,200 Jaguars and Land Rovers worth more than £27m, and 65 BMW Minis worth about £1.3m. She was also carrying more than 100 items of heavy industrial and construction equipment, including stone crushers and JCB diggers weighing up to 50 tonnes.
Her 24 crew and a pilot were rescued by the Lee-on- Solent Coastguard using Royal Air Force-Westland Sea King helicopters from RMB Chivenor and by lifeboat. The Calshot (D-class), Cowes and Yarmouth (Severn-class) Lifeboats attended, as did 4 tugs. Those rescued by helicopter were taken to the airfield HMS Daedalus, near Lee-on-Solent.
Below are images taken by Oliver Philips (Berthon’s Trials Manager) who was out on the Solent that morning, and they show the full extent of the incident.
An attempt to re-float the ship was scheduled for the 7th January, but was cancelled when more water than expected was discovered inside her. She was re-floated without outside assistance later on that day due to high tide and strong winds, and then taken in tow and moored some 2 miles East at Alpha Anchorage, between East Cowes and Lee-on-Solent.
On the 22nd January, 19 days after she left Southampton she was towed into Berth 101 at Southampton Docks where the heavy machinery and vehicles onboard are being assessed prior to offloading.
Without the quick thinking, knowledge and seamanship of all involved this incident could have ended up as a disaster blocking access and egress to the busy commercial port with terrible consequences.