Salvage crew has boarded Eemslift Hendrika, fear of grounding

The Norwegian Coast Guard has succeeded in getting Smit Salvage’s crew on board the listing Eemslift Hendrika. The salvage attempt was to be postponed until Thursday 8 April, however, action was taken sooner because the vessel’s course has changed, meaning it could ground within eight hours.

On Monday 5 April, the Eemslift Hendrika 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 by helicopter. Since then, the ship has been adrift in extremely bad weather and lost at least one workboat that was on deck. Smit Salvage was called in to salvage the vessel, but was unable to get their team on board during the day due to the bad weather. This was to be attempted again on Thursday, but now the Norwegian Government has stepped in.

Government action

Government action was declared at 7 pm tonight. It implies that all oil spill response resources in the area are mobilized to prevent pollution and in parallel, a new attempt would be made to secure tow lines.

‘Conditions have changed during the afternoon and evening, and we are concerned that the vessel does not follow the path on which the original plan was based,’ says the head of the salvage operation on behalf of the Norwegian Coast Guard, Hans-Petter Mortensholm.

He adds: ‘We are therefore taking government action now, so that we have the opportunity to tow the ship. At the same time, we are preparing for a worst-case scenario where we get a grounding. The area has particularly vulnerable natural areas, and we do not want them to be exposed to the strain of an oil spill.’

Grounding within eight hours

At 9.30 pm the salvage personnel of Smit was lifted on board the ship by helicopter. It concerns a team of four people. They are in the process of rigging towing lines both forwards and aft and securing the ship to the heavy tug Normand Drott. This tugboat was hired by Smit Salvage together with the BB Ocean and both had already arrived on the scene during the previous night (6-7 April).

Once the ship is tied to the tugboat, this is to at least prevent the Eemslift Hendrika from drifting further towards the Norwegian coast.

So far, it had not been possible to secure tow lines, due to the risk associated with putting a crew on board. At present, the vessel moves directly towards Stadtlandet at a speed of approximately 1.5 knots, and the distance is about ten nautical miles to land. This means that the vessel might ground in about eight hours.

Eemslift Hendrika

The ship, owned by the shipping company Amasus Shipping in Delfzijl, the Netherlands was en route from Bremerhaven in Germany to the Norwegian port of Kolvereid. The Eemslift Hendrika was built in 2015, is 112 metres long and 17 metres wide.

Also read: Smit Salvage team en route to listing Eemslift Hendrika [UPDATE] 

The Norwegian Coast Guard surveillance plane shot new videos of the Eemslift Hendrika earlier today. Watch these videos below. The last video shows that the workboat that fell from the Eemslift Hendrika’s deck is still afloat and the Coast Guard will try to salvage it later.

All pictures by the Norwegian Coast Guard.

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

Mariska Buitendijk is one of SWZ|Maritime's journalists as well as the magazine's copy editor.