Pumping of water from a car carrier stranded close to a busy shipping lane has completed as salvors prepare to tow the ship back to port.

Heavy winds have delayed the operation to pump water from the Hoegh Osaka and re-right it.

But a spokeswoman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said that the pumping had completed with the remaining water in the car deck due to be pumped into empty fuel tanks on the vessel.

The 51,000-tonne ship, which has a cargo of 1,400 cars and 105 pieces of construction equipment, was beached deliberately on Bramble Bank sandbank, near Southampton, on January 3 after it began listing as it left the Hampshire port.

It floated free from the sandbank on the high tide on January 7 and has since been anchored at a spot two miles east called Alpha Anchorage, near Lee-on-the-Solent.

The MCA spokeswoman said that Hugh Shaw, the Secretary of State's Representative for Intervention and Salvage (Sosrep) visited the ship on Sunday to view operations and it was hoped to move the vessel back to Southampton Port, possibly on Wednesday or Thursday.

She said: ''Operations are progressing well. The weather has been favourable and is forecast to remain so, although the salvors are still working in challenging conditions.

''De-watering operations finished at 11.30 today. Preparations are under way to begin the operation to pump the water that remains in the car decks into the empty fuel tanks on the ship.

''The list is now at 47 degrees and we expect it to improve slowly over the coming hours in accordance with the plan.

''Salvors plan to move the Hoegh Osaka to Southampton Port later this week, possibly late on Wednesday or early on Thursday.''