OSLO (Reuters) – Emergency response teams scrambled on Tuesday to prevent a Dutch cargo ship adrift in the North Sea from sinking and causing an oil spill off Norway’s coast after the crew had to be evacuated in stormy weather.
Footage released by the Norwegian Rescue Coordination Centre showed some of the 12 crew members jumping into the sea late on Monday from the badly listing Eemslift Hendrika before being rescued by helicopter. Others were hoisted directly from the deck.
All were brought to safety, but the ship has continued to drift towards land. It is currently some 74 km (40 miles) off the Norwegian coast.
The wind is expected to gradually shift the vessel to a course parallel to the shore, giving the salvage operation more time, Hans Petter Mortensholm of the Norwegian Coastal Administration told Reuters.
“Our calculations now indicate a window of opportunity to act, lasting until just after midday on Wednesday,” he said. “The risk of pollution is our main concern.”
The Hendrika has around 350 tonnes of heavy oil and 50 tonnes of diesel in its tanks, the Coastal Administration said.
Smit Salvage, a subsidiary of the Dutch marine services company Boskalis, told Reuters it had been contracted to try saving the ship and was mobilising a team to send to Norway later on Tuesday.
Safety permitting, Smit would seek to get its own crew on board the Hendrika and link the vessel to a so-called anchor handling tug, a powerful ship built to move rigs for the oil industry.
“Getting her onto a tow line and to a calmer location, that is the goal,” Smit Salvage spokesman Martijn Schuttevaer said.
A Norwegian coastguard vessel is on standby in the area and could also be used for towing purposes, the Coastal Administration said.
Built in 2015 and registered in the Netherlands, the 111.6 metre (366 feet) Eemslift Hendrika is a yacht transport vessel, carrying smaller boats on its deck, according to Monaco-based Starclass Yacht Transport, which markets the ship’s services.
One of the smaller vessels strapped to the deck fell off in the storm, the Coastal Administration said.
Reporting by Terje Solsvik in Oslo and Anthony Deutsch in Amsterdam; Editing by David Goodman, Gareth Jones and David Evans
Dutch cargo ship adrift off Norway after dramatic rescue of crew – Reuters