Boskalis has confirmed that its subsidiary Smit Salvage has been hired to salvage the Eemslift Hendrika, which is currently adrift without a crew off the coast of Norway. A salvage team will be deployed as soon as possible by helicopter to board the abandoned ship. A heavy sea tug will also be taken to the ship that has gone adrift, says a Boskalis spokesperson.
On Monday, the ship got into difficulties due to shifting cargo, which caused it to list in a stormy sea with waves several metres high. The crew was taken off board. The Eemslift Hendrika, owned by the shipping company Amasus Shipping in Delfzijl, the Netherlands was en route from Bremerhaven in Germany to the Norwegian port of Kolvereid.
Boskalis expects the salvage team to arrive as early as Tuesday 6 April, but it is uncertain whether the salvagers can immediately be taken to the ship by helicopter. Last week, Smit Salvage was already involved in the successful salvage operation in the Suez Canal last week. The Eemslift Hendrika is currenlty drifting towards the Norwegian coast without a working main engine.
Imminent danger of oil spill
According to the head of the salvage operation on behalf of the Norwegian Coast Guard, Hans-Petter Mortensholm, the Norwegian Coast Guard vessel Sortland has arrived at the ship at 12:15. That ship may be able to attach a first tow line to the Eemslift Hendrika, but this is made more difficult by the stormy winds and heavy seas with waves of ten to fifteen metres high.
According to Mortensholm, everything must be done to save the ship from destruction, as there are 350 cubic metres of heavy fuel oil and 70 cubic metres of diesel on board. This could cause problems for the environment. ‘The ship is now drifting towards the Norwegian coast and if we do nothing it will run into the shore within one to one and a half days,’ Mortensholm outlined the imminent danger.
A spokeswoman for the shipping company Amasus Shipping says that she cannot make any further announcements about the salvage at this time. The management is consulting on the situation and will make announcements later on Tuesday.
Work boat fallen overboard
Update 6 April 13.09: Mortensholm has told Norwegian news channel NRK that one of the work boats on deck of the Eemslift Hendrika has now fallen off the ship. However, he adds that: ‘For the time being, we have chosen to prioritise the largest boat. We are first and foremost concerned about the bunker oil and this is on the Eemslift Hendrika.’
The twelve crew members were taken off board with a rescue helicopter on Monday. According to the spokesperson of the Norwegian rescue unit JRCC, the captain was injured, but he has no information about the seriousness of this. The crew was taken to the Norwegian town of Ålesund.
The first eight crew members were already taken off board on Monday afternoon. The other four initially remained on board in an attempt to stabilise the ship, but they were also taken off board later on Monday because the situation became too dangerous. These four had to jump into the sea to be picked up from there by a helicopter (see video below).
The ship was at that moment approximately sixty nautical miles (110 kilometres) west of the Norwegian coast. The Eemslift Hendrika was built in 2015, is 112 metres long and 17 metres wide.
Picture by Hovedredningssentralen Sør-Norge.