The four-day drama of the Dutch heavy-lift vessel abandoned and drifting towards the Norwegian coast came to a quiet end as the vessel was brought safely to port this afternoon. An emergency effort late last night secured a towline after airlifting the salvage crew to the deck of the listing vessel.
The tow began shortly before midnight on April 7 and the vessel was alongside in the port on Flatholmen in Alesund, Norway by 5:00 p.m. local time on April 8 with the assistance of the Smit-operated tugboats. One tugboat was operating the towline on the bow and the second tug was attached to the stern to assist in maintaining the course. The Norwegian Coastal Authority and Norwegian Coast Guard vessels escorted the Eemslift Hendrika to port during the tow.
They reported that the tow proceeded without incident at approximately 3 knots. Weather conditions in the area also improved as the storm subsided. The Norwegian Coastal Authority reported the seas were running 3 to 5 meters (they had been up to 15 meters) and winds dropped to approximately 14 mph.
The incident began on Monday, April 5 when the cargo aboard the Eemslift Hendrika shifted during a winter storm off the west coast of Norway. Fearing that the vessel was in danger of capsizing the captain called for assistance and the Norwegian authorities airlifted the majority o the crew to shore. Later in the day, the captain and the remaining three crew members abandon ship after it lost power and the storm continued to create the risk that the vessel would capsize. Some crew jumped overboard and were pulled from the sea while the others were airlifted from the deck.
The Eemslift Hendrika lost overboard at least one of the vessels it was transporting in the storm. The Norwegian authorities later located the vessel a few nautical miles away.
Safety and flag state authorities are expected to board the vessel to conduct an inspection and begin an investigation into the incident.
(Photo courtesy of the Norwegian Coastal Authority)
Dutch cargo ship Eemslift Hendrika lists as its crew is evacuated in stormy weather off the coast of Norway in the North Sea, April 5, 2021 in this still image obtained from social media video. Joint Rescue and Coordination Centre (JRCC) South-Norway via REUTERS
(Reporting by Terje Solsvik in Oslo and Anthony Deutsch in Amsterdam; Editing by David Goodman, Gareth Jones and David Evans)OSLO (REUTERS)
Emergency response teams scrambled on Tuesday to prevent a Dutch cargo ship adrift in the North Sea from sinking and causing an oil spill off Norway’s coast after the crew had to be evacuated in stormy weather.
Footage released by the Norwegian Rescue Coordination Centre showed some of the 12 crew members jumping into the sea late on Monday from the badly listing Eemslift Hendrika before being rescued by helicopter. Others were hoisted directly from the deck.
All were brought to safety, but the ship has continued to drift towards land. It is currently some 74 km (40 miles) off the Norwegian coast.
The wind is expected to gradually shift the vessel to a course parallel to the shore, giving the salvage operation more time, Hans Petter Mortensholm of the Norwegian Coastal Administration told Reuters.
“Our calculations now indicate a window of opportunity to act, lasting until just after midday on Wednesday,” he said. “The risk of pollution is our main concern.”
The Hendrika has around 350 tonnes of heavy oil and 50 tonnes of diesel in its tanks, the Coastal Administration said.
Smit Salvage, a subsidiary of the Dutch marine services company Boskalis, told Reuters it had been contracted to try saving the ship and was mobilising a team to send to Norway later on Tuesday.
Safety permitting, Smit would seek to get its own crew on board the Hendrika and link the vessel to a so-called anchor handling tug, a powerful ship built to move rigs for the oil industry.
“Getting her onto a tow line and to a calmer location, that is the goal,” Smit Salvage spokesman Martijn Schuttevaer said.
A Norwegian coastguard vessel is on standby in the area and could also be used for towing purposes, the Coastal Administration said.
Built in 2015 and registered in the Netherlands, the 111.6 metre (366 feet) Eemslift Hendrika is a yacht transport vessel, carrying smaller boats on its deck, according to Monaco-based Starclass Yacht Transport, which markets the ship’s services.
One of the smaller vessels strapped to the deck fell off in the storm, the Coastal Administration said.
Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.
The latest imagery from the incident shows Eemslift Hendrika has lost some of its cargo, namely the green boat seen in the photo above. Image taken April 5, 2021. Photo: Hovedredningssentralen