Luxury cars rescued from stricken transporter ship

Range Rover
PA Wire/Press Association Images

A massive operation to remove hundreds of premium cars from a capsized transporter ship has commenced.

The Hoegh Osaka, which is registered in Singapore, was run aground in the Solent off Southampton earlier in the New Year, after its crew took the deliberate action of beaching the vessel when it began to list.

The precarious wreck has taken three weeks to bring to shore, and now work has started to salvage as many of the 1,400 luxury cars on board as possible.

Amongst the cargo are Land Rovers, Jaguars and Porsches, worth £30 million, as well as a single Rolls-Royce Wraith, which is worth around £250,000 on its own.

Range Rovers
PA Wire/Press Association Images

Engineers will have to inspect each individual car to decide whether viable repairs are possible. There is particular concern over the angle at which the cars had been sat during their time on the listing ship, as it could play havoc with a number of complicated electrical and mechanical systems. Of the cars that have emerged from the ship so far, a number show signs of heavy panel damage.

There is a likelihood that the entire shipment could be written off as a precaution, with manufacturers unlikely to want to expose themselves to potential mechanical failure litigation further down the line.

That very decision was taken in 2006, when another car transport ship, the Cougar Ace, began to list in the Pacific Ocean. Despite only 68 vehicles showing sign of damage, Mazda took the decision to scrap all 4,700 of its cars on board as a precaution.

A spokesperson for Hoegh Autoliners, which owns the Osaka, told the Daily Mail that the entire cargo, which also includes 80 heavy plant and industrial machines, would be unloaded by early next week.

"There is only limited damage to the cargo," he said.

"Most of the lashings held, and only a couple of pieces - large machinery - shifted.

"Water damage only occurred on the lowest deck and on the one side the ship was listing."