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26 February 2024

Eight crew missing as ship sinks off Scotland

A handout picture released by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) station in Wick shows the upturned hull of the Cypriot-registered cargo vessel ‘Cemfjord’ in the sea 15 miles from Wick in northeast Scotland. (AFP)


An overturned cargo ship sank Sunday off the coast of Scotland as the search continued for the missing eight-member crew.

Seven Poles and one Filipino were on board the Cypriot-registered ‘Cemfjord’, a cargo ship carrying cement, which capsized around 24km from Wick on the northeast tip of Scotland.

Two helicopters, four lifeboats and five coastguard rescue teams are involved in the search for survivors.

The prow of the ‘Cemfjord’ had been sticking upright out of the water but the ship has now sunk completely.

"The vessel is no longer visible," said a spokeswoman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

"The coastguard rescue teams are still searching and the helicopters are still up. So the search is still going on," but there had been no sign of the crew.

The ship's last-known position was at 1315 GMT on Friday. A passing ferry spotted the upturned hull at around 1430 GMT on Saturday.

"The captain gave an announcement to say they had contacted the coastguard, that we were actually the first to come across this, and they had asked us to start conducting a search for any debris or any lifeboats," passenger Caitlin Ditchfield told the BBC.

"Everyone was trying to help with the search, looking out the windows to see what they could see."

Brise of Hamburg, managers of the cement carrier, confirmed in a statement that the crew of eight were missing "following a severe accident".

"No distress call was received from the vessel. Bad weather prevailed in the area at the time.

"The crew consists of seven Polish seafarers and one Filipino mariner. The company is in the process of informing the families."

Built in 1984, the 83-metre vessel successfully completed her classification renewal inspections in December, Brise said.

It was carrying a cargo of 2,000 tonnes of cement from Aalborg in Denmark to Runcorn near Liverpool on the northwest English coast.

Transport ship beached off English coast

A huge transport ship that ran aground off the south coast of England was being assessed for its stability on Sunday as experts work out how to attempt salvaging the stricken vessel.

The ‘Hoegh Osaka’ car carrier has beached on the submerged Bramble Bank in the Solent, the straits between the mainland and the Isle of Wight.

The Singapore-registered 51,000-tonne vessel is listing at 45 degrees in the water and has quickly become a local tourist attraction.

The 25 crew members on board the 180-metre ship were rescued by helicopters and lifeboats after it hit the sandbank at about 2130 GMT on Saturday as it sailed from Southampton to Germany.

"The crew who were on board the car carrier Hoegh Osaka have all now been accounted for," said the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

"Some were airlifted off the ship by coastguard helicopter and others were rescued from the sea by the three lifeboats that were on scene."

There were a few non life-threatening injuries but all the crew are safe and well.

"There is no reported pollution from the vessel which remains listing at 45 degrees and the MCA's counter pollution team will continue to monitor the vessel which is currently assessed as being stable," the agency said.

"The vessel's owners have appointed the salvage company Svitzer and a salvage team is on its way to the scene today to make an initial assessment."

A high tide has passed but the ship remains exactly where it was.

The vessel has become a tourist attraction with car parks along the coast filling up with people wishing to see the unusual sight for themselves.

The Bramble Bank appears for about an hour at the lowest spring tide of the year. The sandbar is the site of a quickfire, jovial cricket match between the yachting clubs based on either side of the Solent before the sea envelops it again.