Oil pollution averted: An abandoned cargo ship swaying in the North Sea without propulsion was secured by special forces on Thursday night and is now being towed into the port of the Norwegian city of Ålesund. Rescue teams had succeeded in getting on board the “Eemslift Hendrika” and connecting the ship with two tugs, announced the Norwegian coast administration. Previously, in view of the bad weather, it was feared that the 112-meter-long ship of the Dutch shipping company Amasus Shipping with 350 tons of heavy fuel oil and 50 tons of diesel on board could run aground – and pollute sensitive natural areas in the area.
The ship was en route from Bremerhaven to Kolvereid on the Norwegian coast. It had been listed on Easter Monday in bad weather and heavy swell after parts of the cargo had shifted, and sent an emergency signal. The crew was taken off board by helicopter on Monday. The ship then lost its propulsion power late on Monday evening.
Ship connected to two tugs
Originally the “Eemslift Hendrika” was supposed to get out of trouble on Wednesday. Due to bad weather, the action was initially postponed to Thursday. Then, however, the conditions changed in the afternoon and evening, according to the coast administration. One worried that the freighter might not drift along the previously calculated route – and yet another attempt at recovery was made. At this point the ship was drifting around ten nautical miles (18.5 kilometers) from the coast. According to the coast administration, that meant it could drift onto land in the course of around eight hours.
At the same time, preparations were made for the worst scenario that the “Eemslift Hendrika” could run aground. Resources to tackle oil spills have been mobilized. There are particularly vulnerable natural areas in the region and they do not want them exposed to oil pollution, said readiness director Hans-Petter Mortensholm.
In the course of Wednesday evening it was actually possible to bring the crew of the Dutch rescue company Smit Salvage and a rescuer from a helicopter on board the “Eemslift Hendrika”. According to the coast administration, they managed to connect the ship to two tugs – both at the bow and at the stern of the ship. This avoids the risk of touching the ground. The ship is now being towed to Ålesund via Breisundet. The Norwegian coast guard is maintaining the emergency readiness until the ship has docked safely.
According to the coastal administration, the tugs were chartered by the shipping company from the Dutch salvage company Smit Salvage. Smit Salvage is a subsidiary of the rescue company Boskalis, which recently also took care of the rescue of the “Ever Given” in the Suez Canal.
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