Solent rescue: Captain of cargo ship lauded for his quick thinking after running vessel aground

The boat's owners commended the captain and pilot for their 'great skill'

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The Independent Online

The captain of a massive cargo ship has been praised after deliberately running it aground in the Solent when the vessel started listing to one side.

The owners of the Hoegh Osaka told a press conference on Sunday that the captain and pilot had showed “great skill” when they decided to “save the vessel and the crew” by beaching it on Bramble Bank shortly after leaving Southampton on Saturday.

One of the 24-strong crew had to be rescued from the water but the others and a pilot helping the vessel to navigate the Solent were taken to the shore from the ship.

Ingar Skiaker, chief executive of Hoegh Autoliners, told a press conference: “At this stage, it’s too early to speculate on the cause of this accident. “The vessel did develop a severe list shortly after she left port and the pilot and the master made the decision to save the vessel and the crew by grounding her on the bank. This showed great skill and seamanship and they had to make quick decision and they did that in a very good fashion.”

He added that their “chief concern” now was to ensure there was no environmental damage. “There is no oil spill reported at this point, however we understand that the UK authorities have brought their spill response to a state of active readiness,” Mr Skiaker said.

The 51,000-tonne, 180-metre vessel, which was heading to Germany when it ran aground at about 9.20pm on Saturday, quickly became an impromptu tourist attraction as it sat on the seabed leaning over by about 52 degrees.

Hampshire Constabulary said on Facebook: “Good morning all, just a piece of friendly advice... car parks along the coast by Calshot are extremely busy. This is due to people being interested in seeing the car transporter ship which has run aground.”

Colin Darch, a retired ship’s captain who lives in Westward Ho!, Devon, said when the ship started to list the master and pilot “had to decide fairly quickly whether to risk her rolling over in the deep water or put her on the sand bank”.

“You really don’t have a lot of time to do it,” he said, adding he would be “feeling pretty sick” now if he had been in charge of the vessel. “I think they’ll choose a big tide and get her back off.”