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Hoegh Osaka safely back at shore in Southampton

Nineteen days after it was deliberately grounded on a sandbank in the Solent, the stranded car carrier Hoegh Osaka has been towed back to shore.

Four tugs were used in the salvage operation Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Four tugs took just over three hours to tow the 51,000-tonne ship back into Southampton Port after salvors managed to reduce its list from 52 to just five degrees.

Tonnes of water had to be pumped out of the ship to reduce the angle of the list, so that when it was docked, the cargo hold doors could be opened for the 1,400 luxury cars inside to be taken out.

People watch as the enormous vessel is towed back to shore Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

The vessel was beached deliberately on Bramble Bank sandbank in a busy shipping lane on January 3 after it began listing as it left Southampton.

The Hoegh Osaka car carrier arrives at Southampton docks Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has congratulated the salvage experts involved in the operation. He said they battled 'exceptionally difficult weather conditions with extraordinary dedication and courage.'

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Stricken Solent ship docks in Southampton

The Hoegh Osaka - the stricken car carrier stuck in the Solent for the last 19 days has been brought back to a dock in Southampton.

Salvage experts had to wait for the weather to improve and for tonnes of water to be pumped out of the ship so it could towed upright.

ITV News Correspondent Rupert Evelyn watched the rescue operation: