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Eemslift Hendrika is secured – towed to safe harbour

After a successful operation the vessel Eemslift Hendrika was towed to the port of Ålesund .
Photo:Stig Jacobsen/Kystverket

A lot happened during some hectic hours last night, Wednesday 7th of April. First, the Norwegian Coastal Administration mobilized according to their contingency plan against acute pollution, salvage crews managed to get on board the drifting vessel Eemslift Hendrika and managed to connect it to the two tugboats, and the vessel is now being towed to harbour in Ålesund.

− Conditions changed during the afternoon and evening, and we were worried that the vessel would not follow the expected course on which the original plan was based. We therefore launched a governmental run operation, so we could have the opportunity to tow the vessel. At the same time, we prepared for a worst-case scenario with get a grounding, says director for preparedness against acute pollution, Hans-Petter Mortensholm.

During the evening, there was a successful operation to place crew from the Dutch salvage company Smit Salvage, plus a rescuer from the helicopter on board the Eemslift Hendrika. They managed to connect the vessel to two tugboats – both at the bow and stern of the ship.

The last message on Wednesday 7th of April is as follow:
The risk of grounding has been avoided, and the ship will be towed to Ålesund via Breisundet. The Norwegian Coastal Administration maintains emergency preparedness until the ship is safely ashore. The coast guard ship KV Bergen is involved as a security vessel. The NCA have additional vessel resources in readiness in the area.

Previous updates from the opertaion

Updated April 6, 6pm
The ship is still drifting, and is located 40-50 nautical miles west of Ålesund. KV Sortland is still on site, and they are the Coastal Administration's eyes and ears. There is 15-18 meters of sea, and 18-20 m / s wind from the north. This makes it impossible for the Coast Guard to do anything other than observe.

The boat that was placed in the middle of the deck has broke loose, and is a few nautical miles from the cargo ship. This is believed to have had a positive effect on the stability of the Eemslift Hendrika, and may help to avoid capsizing.

The Norwegian Coastal Administration is in close contact with the shipping company in the Netherlands, and has regular meetings with them. NCA has assisted in finding resources in Norway, and the shipping company has engaged two tugboats, which will depart from Bergen and Kristiansund tonight. These will be at the ship at 3-4 o'clock tomorrow morning (Wednesday). If weather and wind allow it, personnel will be transported on board the Eemslift Hendrika to have a tow attached. The ship is then scheduled to be towed ashore.

The Norwegian Coastal Administration is following the situation closely, and is mapping resources for a possible helicopter lift of crew to the ship. Furthermore, the Norwegian Coastal Administration maps resources, both vessels and trained people for a possible oil spill response operation if the vessel should hit land and ground. At the moment, it is just over a day until that can occur, but it is likely that a tow will be connected before that. In that case, the Norwegian Coastal Administration will escort the tow with KV Sortland, and put its own pilots on board the tugs whenever possible.

Updated April 6, 1 pm
KV Sortland is now at the scene of the accident, and reports that the work boat on the ship has fallen off.

Updated April 6, 11 am
KV Sortland will arrive at the casualty between 11 am and 1 pm. The Norwegian Coastal Administration's aircraft are also on their way, and will be able to provide an accurate update of how things are going, both with the ship and with the cargo.

The shipping company is making a plan for salvage, and the Norwegian Coastal Administration has urged the measures. These are expected to be in place during Tuesday. In addition, the Norwegian Coastal Administration has implemented its own measures to prevent the ship from entering the coast.

The main focus is to stabilize the ship so that it does not sink, and make sure that the oil is not released into the sea.

The weather conditions are still demanding, with waves up to 15 meters high and strong winds.

Original message:

On Monday morning, the Dutch cargo ship Eemslift Hendrika sent out an emergency message after being hit. The ship was then about 60 nautical miles west of Ålesund. Everyone on board was evacuated during Monday, and the ship went on autopilot for a long time. Late Monday night, the ship lost engine power, and has been operating in the Norwegian Sea last night.

The Coast Guard's KV Sortland is on its way, and the Coast Guard's aircraft are also preparing to fly towards the casualty. There is still a danger that the ship may capsize and sink.

The Norwegian Coastal Administration is in close dialogue with the shipping company about salvage, but the bad weather in the area makes the salvage operation difficult. There are waves up to 15 meters high, and the ship drifts in the direction of Stad. With the drive that the ship has now, it will reach the coast in approx. one and a half days. Work is now being done on which measures are to be implemented to prevent environmental damage.

Eemslift Hendrika has approximately 350 tonnes of heavy oil and 50 tonnes of diesel on board.

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