Norwegian authorities have successfully prevented MPP heavy-lift vessel Eemslift Hendrika from capsizing and spilling 350 tonnes of heavy fuel oil and 50 tonnes of marine diesel oil into Norway’s waters
17: 30 BST, 9 April 2021
The Norwegian Coastal Administration Kystverket has reported its towing operation of heavy-lift vessel Eemslift Hendrika has ended with the vessel safely brought into port in Ålesund.
"The casualty Eemslift Hendrika was unloaded safely in port this afternoon and the government action has thus ended. This has been a real team effort and we want to thank everyone involved who made sure this went well," the Kystverket said on Twitter.
08:15 BST, 8 April 2021
Overnight on 7 April, a team of salvors boarded and attached tow ropes to the destabilised heavy-lift vessel Eemslift Hendrika, allowing towing operations to commence.
The vessel is now on its way to a port in Norway, according to the Norwegian Coastal Administration, Kystsverket.
"The tow is on its way to Ålesund, and maintains a speed of around 3 knots. There have been no special challenges during the night, but the level of preparedness is maintained until the ship is safe at the quay. The salvage crew is on board the casualty, and the tow is followed by KV Bergen. There is now 6 m/s wind and 3-5 m waves. The Norwegian Coastal Administration’s aircraft plans to depart during the morning," a statement from the Kystverket said.
A salvage team from Smit Salvage took the contract to rescue the 4,200-dwt heavy-lift vessel Eemslift Hendrika whose crew were evacuated after the vessel was destabilised in swells above 15 m and high winds on 5 April.
"The risk of grounding has been averted, and the ship will be towed to Ålesund via Breisundet," the Kystverket said.
The vessel contains 350 tonnes of heavy fuel oil and 50 tonnes of marine diesel oil which authorities had feared could be spilled in Norway’s waters, if the vessel were to continue its course and ground in the protected waters of the Norwegian coast, creating an environmental disaster.
Smit Salvage recently undertook another high-profile ship rescue operation, joining work to dig the ultra-large container ship Ever Given from where it had grounded, blocking all traffic through the Suez Canal.
11:00 BST, 7 April 2021
A team of salvors from Smit Salvage is preparing to board 4,200-dwt heavy-lift vessel Eemslift Hendrika whose crew were evacuated after the vessel was destabilised in swells above 15 m and high winds on 5 April.
Two tugs are on site, according to the Norwegian Coastal Administration, Kystverket, and preparations to tow the vessel ashore are underway.
"The tugs BB Ocean and Normand Drott arrived at the casualty on Tuesday night. The tugs are chartered by the Dutch salvage company Smit Salvage. According to the plan, they will tow the ship ashore Wednesday morning, but first people must be hoisted on board from a helicopter to attach the tow rope. When the ship is rigged for towing, [they will] try to get it into sheltered waters and anchor up. Then, the ship must be stabilised before it is transported further," the Kystverket said.
"The helicopter that will transport salvage personnel on board the casualty has been in the area and made an inspection. They are on their way back to Ålesund to pick up the crew, and plan to hoist down four people during the early afternoon. The weather has calmed down since yesterday, there are now 6-8 m waves, light to stiff gales and snow showers."
The Norwegian coast guard vessel KV Sortland accompanied stricken Eemslift Hendrika overnight to its position some 40-50 nautical miles west of Ålesund, on Norway’s west coast. The vessels encountered 15-18 m swells and over 40 mph (35 knot) winds, making it "impossible for the Coast Guard to do anything other than observe," according to the Kystverket.
17:00 BST, 6 April 2021
Norway’s coast guard has aircraft and a vessel on site with the stricken 4,200-dwt vessel. The Kystverket (Norwegian Coastal Administration) said its aircraft are en route to keep watch on the vessel and its cargo of workboats and recreational vessels.
The Norwegian Coastal Administration reported that a workboat being carried by Eemslift Hendrika had fallen into the water.
"The weather conditions are still demanding, with waves up to 15 m high and strong winds," an update on the Kystverket website said. "The main focus is to stabilise the ship so that it does not sink, and make sure that the oil is not released into the sea."
Eemslift Hendrika sent an emergency call in the early hours local time on 5 April, 2021. Its position at the time was some 60 nautical miles west of Ålesund, on Norway’s west coast. The vessel’s historic track and position as of 13:15 GMT on 6 April can be seen at right. Click the image for a larger version.
The vessel was on autopilot at the time, according to the Kystverket, but lost engine power late on Monday night (5 April).
As the video below shows, the Norwegian coast guard evacuated all crew during daylight hours on 5 April.
"The shipping company is making a plan for salvage," the Kystverket said, noting the salvage plan was "expected to be in place [on] Tuesday (6 April)".
"In addition, the Norwegian Coastal Administration has implemented its own measures to prevent the ship from entering the coast," the statement said.
"There are waves up to 15 m high, and the ship [is drifting] in the direction of Stad. With the [direction] that the ship has now, it will reach the coast in approximately 1.5 days. Work is now being done on which measures are to be implemented to prevent environmental damage," the Kystverket said.
"There is still a risk that the ship may capsize and pose an environmental hazard."
US-headquartered geospatial information group Spire told Riviera Maritime Media in an email that weather conditions were not likely to see a marked improvement in the near term.
"Spire’s weather forecast issued at 00:00 UTC on 6 April predicted wind gusts at speeds of 80 km/h and wave heights of 10.3 m and above," Spire Maritime general manager Simon van den Dries, said.
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