Severe winds to hit Hoegh Osaka salvage: Picture courtesy National Police Air Service

Severe winds to hit Hoegh Osaka salvage: Picture courtesy National Police Air Service

Dramatically increasing windspeed is forecast to slam into the southern UK tomorrow afternoon (9 January), although maritime experts do not expect it to significantly hamper the car ship salvage operation currently under way.

The 51,000t Hoegh Osaka vessel carrying 1,300 vehicles including Jaguars, Land Rovers, BMWs, JCBs and one Rolls-Royce Wraith, en route for German and Middle East destinations, was deliberately rammed aground on 3 January following a severe list leaving the Port of Southampton.

News of the worsening weather comes after the salvers and owners were given an unexpected fillip yesterday as the giant ship refloated itself allowing it to be towed two miles east of Bramble Bank where the Hoegh Osaka was grounded.

Jaguar Land Rover was not immediately available for comment, but JCB earlier indicated it was no longer the owner of its 105 machines, responsibility having passed to its Middle East dealers.

The UK is bracing itself for severe weather tomorrow that could delay any work on the Hoegh Osaka, with the UK's Secretary of State Representative (SOSREP) currently holding a press conference in Southampton, from which further details are expected later.

"The current weather forecast is worsening 03:00 Friday (9 January), which will abate during the morning and pick up again at 15:00 tomorrow, reaching very high winds on Saturday morning," a UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency spokeswoman told just-auto from Southampton.

"It won't hamper it, but it will be a delay, because we need a weather window."

The ship is still listing at 51 degrees at its new position two nautical miles from Lee-on-Solent and the Isle of Wight, where it is being held by three tugs.

"It [vessel] is kind of pacing up and down at anchorage, which is why some people think it is moving, it is not," added the MCA spokeswoman.

An earlier crack in the Hoegh Osaka's hull, caused by moving machinery, has now been repaired and it is still not clear what if any, damage the 1,300 vehicles have sustained. But the severe predicted winds will naturally cause salvers, Svitzer, who were unavailable from both Denmark and Holland, to pause until they abate.

The sudden appearance of such a colossal ship listing off Southampton Water has caused the area to jam with sightseers, attracting the attention of UK police.

"We did conduct some patrols around the coastline areas to ensure the safety of any spectators at least," a spokeswoman for Hampshire Constabulary Marine Unit told just-auto.

The ship's new location is inside the Queen's Harbour Master Portsmouth (QHM) jurisdiction and is close to an area called Spitbank.
Queen's Harbour Master Portsmouth has established a temporary exclusion zone of 300 metres around the vessel and only exempt vessels are allowed to enter. 

"The Port is operating normally and where it is now is well away from the shipping lane into Southampton," said the MCA spokeswoman.