Hoegh Osaka cars could unload today (27 January): Picture courtesy Maritime & Coastguard Agency

Hoegh Osaka cars could unload today (27 January): Picture courtesy Maritime & Coastguard Agency

Owners of the Hoegh Osaka carship say most of the vehicles on board the vessel are able to be driven off, with relatively few damaged by water ingestion.

There are 1,400 Jaguar Land Rovers, Minis and JCBs on board the 51,000t car transporter, as well as one Rolls-Royce Wraith, which were bound for Germany and the Middle East before the ship developed a severe list on leaving Southampton on 3 January.

News of the cars' reasonable condition will now present a headache to the automakers, who must decide whether they are are sufficiently undamaged to be sold, or whether legal and insurance worries in the future may see them end in the wreckers yard.

"They should be starting to unload today," [27 January] a Hoegh Osaka owner Hoegh Autoliners spokesman told just-auto. "They are expecting to drive most of the cars off as they were driven on.

"It looks like only a couple of items broke from their lashings, so there is not as much damage. There was a little bit of water on the lower car deck and it looks like because of the list of the vessel, most of the cars on these decks were not impacted and they did not get water.

"The only cars that got water were the ones on the lowest car deck [which] were downwards on the right of the vessel. They are suggesting it is only a relatively small number."

The Hoegh Osaka limped back to Southampton last Friday (23 January), but unloading has been hindered by a gravel sorter compacter blocking the door.

Unloaders are waiting for larger machinery to remove this obstacle before the cars can be driven off.

Salvers, Svitzer, whose 17-strong team pumped 3,000t of water out following a crack caused by shifting machinery and who had to access the ship by helicopter as it moved in the water, have now handed the vessel back to Hoegh Autoliners.

British government bodies such as the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) and Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA), have now finished their work, while it also appears there was no oil leak from the 500t of fuel on board, a possibility which was being evaluated by the UK Secretary of State Representative (SOSREP) for Salvage and Maritime Intervention.

"It is Hoegh Autoliners working to unload the vessel and once the cargo is off it will be turned back to the involved companies and they will make the judgement call what to do next with the cargo," said the ship owner spokesman.

MCA and MAIB inspections have confirmed only minor damage to the Hoegh Osaka.