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Car transporter ship was 'in danger of capsizing' when it was run aground

A car carrier stranded next to a busy shipping lane was grounded deliberately to prevent it from capsizing, its owners have said.

The 51,000 tonne Hoegh Osaka became stricken on the Bramble Bank between Southampton and the Isle of Wight last night after it sailed from the Hampshire port with its cargo of 1,400 cars.

The car carrier is listing at more than 50 degrees and rests on a bank Credit: @maibgovuk/PA Wire

The 180-metre Singapore-registered ship is currently listing at 52 degrees and the salvage operation is expected to take days, possibly weeks.

A 200 metre exclusion zone has been set up around the ship to prevent small vessels interfering with the tugs and other shipping.

Ingar Skiaker, CEO of Hoegh Autoliners which owns the vessel, said that no oil had leaked from the vessel and preventing any environmental impact was his key priority.

Three RNLI crews from Yarmouth, Calshot and Cowes were joined by a Coastguard helicopter to rescue the crew Credit: RNLI/Calshot/PA Wire

Ingar Skiaker, CEO of Hoegh Autoliners which owns the vessel, said that no oil had leaked from the vessel and preventing any environmental impact was his key priority.

He said: "Our vessel Hoegh Osaka is currently grounded at Bramble Bank in the Solent outside the port of Southampton. All crew plus one pilot, in total 25 people were evacuated from the vessel and all are safe and accounted for.

"Two crew members were taken to the hospital with minor injuries. The crew is currently being offered all possible support and assistance to help them cope with the ordeal they have been through.

"We would like to thank everyone who has been involved in this challenging rescue operation, with a special thanks to the Maritime & Coastguard Agency, the RNLI, DNV and Southampton's Port Authorities.

"The vessel is currently considered stable, and we are closely working with our appointed salvors Svitzer, who in turn, are working alongside Hugh Shaw, the Secretary of State's Representative in Maritime Salvage and Intervention, as well as the Port of Southampton, to prepare for a safe and successful salvage of the vessel with minimal disruption to the port and it environment."

Mr Shaw told a press conference in Southampton that the salvers would spend the next few days going on board the ship to establish if the cargo, which as well as the cars includes 70 to 80 pieces of construction equipment, had shifted and the implication for the operation to refloat the vessel.

He said that so far none of the 500 tonnes of fuel onboard had leaked, saying: "There has been no release of oil into the environment and we are determined to keep the situation that way - we are not looking for a quick fix here."

Mr Shaw said that the ship had been assessed as stable.

Beaches on both sides of The Solent have been thronged with people who wanted to see the salvage attempt Credit: Andrew Mattews/PA~ Wire

The stricken carrier has become a tourist attraction with car parks along the coast filling up with people wishing to view it and Hampshire police posted advice to motorists on Facebook warning them that the area had become "extremely busy".

Bramble Bank is a well-known sandbank in Southampton Water and is the scene of an annual cricket match between two yachting clubs when the sands are exposed in low spring tides.

In November 2008, the Cunard liner Queen Elizabeth 2 with 1,700 passengers on board ran aground on Bramble Bank but was able to continue its journey on the rising tide after four tugs pulled it clear.

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