Dutch cargo ship adrift off Norway after dramatic rescue of crew

Two tugs, the BB Ocean and Normand Drott, arrived at drifting Dutch-registered yacht-transporter Eemslift Hendrika (IMO 9671486) early on Wednesday morning April 7th. Plans were underway to tow the vessel to port.

The Eemslift Hendrika ran into difficulties some 60nm off Alesund in Norway early Tuesday morning when some of the yachts it was transporting shifted position on deck during heavy weather. The ship listed badly as a result. Eight of the 12 crew were evacuated initially, with the other four, including the captain, being rescued later in the day.

Footage released by the Norwegian Rescue Coordination Centre showed some of the 12 crew members jumping into the sea late on Monday before being rescued by helicopter. Others were hoisted directly from the deck.

On Tuesday the largest of the work boats being shipped fell off the cargo deck of the Eemslift Hendrika. That vessel, which was ordered by AQS via shipbuilder Moen Marin, was located 2.8 km away from the casualty.

By yesterday the Eemslift Hendrika was about 40nm west of Ålesund, but only about 30 nautical miles from land. A gale is blowing in the area.

The emergency response teams want to prevent the vessel from sinking and causing an oil spill. The carrier has around 350 tonnes of heavy oil and 50 tonnes of diesel in its tanks, the Coastal Administration said.

The strong winds were expected to shift the vessel slowly to a course parallel to the shore, rather than pushing it onto the rocky coast. This should give the salvage operation more time, according to Hans Petter Mortensholm of the Norwegian Coastal Administration.

He told Reuters that “our calculations now indicate a window of opportunity to act, lasting until just after midday on Wednesday. The risk of pollution is our main concern.”

Smit Salvage said that it had been contracted to try to save the ship. A team has arrived in Norway to begin plans for a rescue. Safety permitting, Smit would seek to get its own crew on board the Eemslift Hendrika and link the vessel to an anchor handling tug. “Getting her onto a tow line and to a calmer location, that is the goal,” said Smit Salvage spokesman Martijn Schuttevaer.

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 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.

2015 built, Netherlands-flagged, 5,460 gt Eemslift Hendrika is owned by Eemslift Hendrika BV care of manager Amasus Support BV of Delfzjil, Netherlands.