Sensational Sailing Sir – Höegh Osaka ‘grounded deliberately’

Sensational Sailing Sir – Hoegh Osaka ‘grounded deliberately’

The talents of the pilots and captains that manoeuvre the giant vessels that traverse the arteries of world trade were showcased this weekend.  As the Höegh Osaka started its voyage from Southampton to Germany carrying a high value cargo of nearly 1500 luxury vehicles it began listing.  The pilot and the master acted fast to avoid disaster.

Sea Legs to Ground

Reports suggest that before the vessel capsized the pilot managed to ground it on a sandbank in the Solent.  It’s too early to confirm exactly why the ship started to list but if it had capsized in the shipping lane there could have been a huge impact on the UK’s supply chains.  Southampton is the UKs second largest container port and any cargo shipped from Asia or elsewhere would be severely delayed if destined for Southampton.

All 25 crew were taken to safety by the RNLI and the coastguard grounded and although there is likely to be some damage to its cargo early reports suggest that none of the 500 tonnes of oil onboard was spilled.

Pilot Scheme

The huge vessels that aid in global import and export of cargo by sea freight can be quarter of a mile in length.  It’s impossible for a single person to be an expert in the local conditions of each port that their vessel may call.  As a result local pilots who know the water conditions, the state of the seabed and how a vessel may react to any particular port entry or exit is taken on board, it seems that in this case, the local knowledge paid off.


My wife certainly knows how to find the kerb when parking our little car but the skill and precision of these professionals should be applauded as rather than scrape a rim the pilot on the Höegh Osaka may have avoided disaster.

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