An unmanned Dutch cargo ship is braving the heavy seas off the coast of Norway, and it might be in danger of capsizing if the weather difficulties continue. Its crew was evacuated during a dramatic rescue following a distress call on Monday.
The "Eemslift Hendrika", built in 2015 and registered in the Netherlands, was carrying several smaller ships from Bremerhaven in Germany to Kolvereid in Norway, according to Reuters, and made the distress call after stormy weather dislodged some of its cargo.
The 111.6-meter (366-feet) transport vessel was carrying 12 crew members who were evacuated in two stages. The eight of them were airlifted by helicopter from the deck of the Eemslift Hendrika; while the other four had to jump into the water. They were then picked up from the sea because the waves were rocking the boat too much. Footage released by the Norwegian Rescue Coordination Centre shows the dramatic rescue operation:
Det er fortsatt fare for at lasteskipet Eemslift Hendrika skal kantre og synke. KV Sortland er nå fremme ved havaristen. På https://t.co/WjQchCUqZV kan du følge utviklingen i saken.https://t.co/KnN0ySyeha pic.twitter.com/eviAMUF2SI— Kystverket (@Kystverket) April 6, 2021
While the crew is safe, the ship has also suffered an engine failure and then started drifting towards land. Reuters reported on April 6 that it is 74 km (40 miles) off the Norwegian coast. The wind shifting the vessel to a course parallel to the shore can give the rescue operation more time.
"We are optimistic but at the same time, there are 15-meter (49-foot) high waves and strong winds. The weather conditions are extreme and the safety of personnel will always come first," said Hans-Petter Mortensholm at the Norwegian Coastal Administration to the VG newspaper.
EMPTY VESSEL: Norwegian authorities are working to prevent a ship with a broken engine from which the crew were evacuated from capsizing or crashing into the shore. https://t.co/kZqd2n9XbB pic.twitter.com/V5raAfcYwL— ABC News (@ABC) April 7, 2021
"Our calculations now indicate a window of opportunity to act, lasting until just after midday on Wednesday," he added. "The risk of pollution is our main concern."
The Coastal Administration told Reuters that Eemslift Hendrika has around 350 tonnes of heavy oil and 50 tonnes of diesel in its tanks.
"The situation seems to be more stable but there is still a risk that it could capsize," Mortensholm said. "We want to put someone on board to arrange for a tow as soon as the weather conditions allow."