THE Hoegh Osaka was "out of control" after it dramatically came adrift in the Solent at high tides.

Hugh Shaw, Secretary of State's Representative for Maritime Salvage & Intervention, revealed today that salvage teams were unable to control the vessel after high tides forced it afloat.

Experts are currently using tugs to move the vessel away from Bramble Bank to a new position in the waterway.

Hugh Shaw, secretary of state representative for maritime salvage said: “Winds that came through were gusting a lot higher than forecast and got the ship off the sandbank.

The swirling waters caused the vessel to rotate 180 degrees and he said extra boats from Southampton were deployed to help.

He said she was “out of control” for a small period of time while teams worked to stabilise her and added: “We were worried that she would wander into the main shipping channe and she would be impeding the shipping area.

“There was a ship coming in and it has to slow down and allow us more time to get it out of the way.”

The ship is currently being carefully pulled by tugs to waters near Spitbank on the outskirts of Portsmouth Harbour – two miles east from where it ran aground at Bramble Bank.

Queen’s Harbour Master Portsmouth has established a temporary exclusion zone of 300 metres around the vessel.  

Once anchoreded there experts will monitor her with specialist equipment before starting the next phase of the operation to right her.

He said: “We are monitoring her so that she doesn’t start to increase her list.

He added: “We’ve got her in deeper water and in a safer place and we can move ballast about internally and will see the list of the vessel declining.”

The ship is being towed to an anchorage off Lee-on-the-Solent - two miles east from where it ran aground at Bramble Bank.

A statement released by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which is working in partnership with salvors Svitzer, said: “The new holding position will allow a full assessment of her condition. Disruption to the Port of Southampton is minimal; there will be a slight restriction in traffic movements until the Hoegh Osaka is clear of the main channel, but no closure of the port is anticipated.”

The ship refloated itself at 1.55pm today due to a combination of high tides and salvaging teams pumping out water from the hold.

She is expected to arrive there in around an hour.

A spokesman from vessel owners Hoegh said they are not commenting until the ship reaches its destination.

Daily Echo:

An exclusion zone has been extended to 500m as two tugs slowly use lines to pull the 51,000 tonne ship still listing at 52 degrees.

The convoy is moving eastwards towards an area of deeper water where it is due to be anchored and later righted.

Salvors have yet to announce the location they are heading to.

The vessel came afloat during high tides earlier this afternoon

A spokesman for ABP said the mission is not affecting the port’s operations.

A statement released by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: “The vessel has self-floated at high water and the intention is to tow her to a holding position in Southampton Water pending a full assessment of her condition.

“A decision on the next phase of the salvage operation will be made after the assessment.”

An MCA spokeswoman said she was unable to determine how long the assessment will take and added: “The main thing is they can do thing safely and that is why they want to assess it.”

A spokesman for Svitzer, in leading the salvaging operation, said: “She appears to have come adrift herself on the high tide.

“They are rushing down there to take advantage of it.

“They are going to see if they can stabilise her and get her off the bank.”

The dramatic development comes after the Daily Echo earlier revealed that the huge operation to refloat the stranded vessel could be re-launched within the next 48 hours.

An ambitious £10m mission to carefully move the 51,000 tonne vessel to deeper water for re-floating was scrapped last night after rescue crews working on it said the vessel had taken on more water than first thought.

Water had initially seeped in after a digger it was carrying came loose and smashed into the hull puncturing a hole which has since been fixed.

But the teams have spent the morning frantically pumping out water from the ship’s hold.

Daily Echo:

They are now taking advantage of the favourable tides and an opportunity to move the ship before a looming front of severe weather bears down on the region today with wind and rain forecast to batter the area into the weekend.

It was deliberately grounded there when it began listing after leaving Southampton Docks on Saturday.

The vessel's cargo of 1,400 cars and nearly 100 pieces of excavators and heavy plant machinery and 500 tonnes of fuel are secure, salvors say.

The rescue operation involves using two tugs were going to tow it to deeper water.

The convoy will crawl at around three knots to a temporary location so they could begin righting her without obstructing the shipping lane.

The alternative involves securing the ship to the sandbank with several anchors while a number of tugs will be attached to the vessel with crews onboard the smaller boats monitoring her stability.

A 200 metre exclusion zone remains in place while the ship is being towed, which could be extended if need be.

A spokesman for Associated British Ports (ABP) said the Port of Southampton is running as normal and added: “There’s no impact on the Port of Southampton’s operations. The exclusion zone remains at 200m  but that could change and we are monitoring the situation.”

Meanwhile the Isle of Wight Council says it is working closely with a number of agencies to monitor the pollution risk to the island coastline.

Although there is no sign of pollutants and the risk remains low the north of the island is a highly sensitive area with international designations to protect migrating birds and other rare species and habitats.

The council is reassuring residents that plans are in place to protect these areas of sensitive Island coastline should conditions change.

Daily Echo: The ship heads away from Bramble Bank tonight

Cllr Ian Stephens, leader of the Isle of Wight Council, said: “We are closely monitoring the situation and are on standby to take appropriate action should a leak from the vessel occur.

"Although the risk remains low, we need to carefully consider the impact a spill would have on our coastline and harbours.  The council is being kept extremely well informed of the salvage plans and all of the agencies involved are working hard to manage this very unusual situation.”