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Hoegh Osaka grounding

Like many others I was very interested in the news about the grounding of the Hoegh Osaka on Bramble Bank over the weekend. I was also relieved, of course, that there were no fatalities and very few injuries. My first thoughts were:

  • was a pilot on board?
  • were the cars shackled, i.e. tied down?

We now that the answer to both of these is ‘Yes’; indeed, quite quickly it emerged that the ship was grounded deliberately by the master and the pilot working together following a technical problem that started shortly after they left Southampton.

I was following the news closely on Sunday morning and decided to have a look at AIS. The image below is the record of her course out of Southampton. It’s easy to be wise after the event, but as soon as I saw that 180° turn back to the NE I felt that a deliberate grounding was a possible explanation for where she ended up. Of course, we don’t yet know the reason for the grounding, but this morning the latest suggestion is that the problem might have been with the automatic trimming/ballasting system; as I understand it, if that went wrong then the vessel could develop a major list. Grounding would then be a rational solution, especially if there was a suitable location available, and of course Bramble Bank, being both shallow-water and soft-bottomed, would be exactly that. I shall read the eventual accident report with interest.

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