French Salvors Tow Disabled Containership Out of English Channel

Drifting container ship rescued from English Channel
HSL Nike was towed from the English Channel after the vessel reported it was drifting (Premar Manche)

Published Dec 27, 2022 7:39 PM by The Maritime Executive

French authorities are reporting the successful salvage operation to bring a disabled containership to port in what they describe as a “delicate operation.” The maritime prefect for the English Channel had decided that the vessel needed to be towed to port due to difficult weather conditions and reports that the vessel was drifting despite having lowered its anchors.

The containership HSL Nike was inbound from the Dominican Republic for Rotterdam on Monday, December 26 when the 34,243 dwt vessel experienced engine troubles while in the traffic separation lanes of the English Channel. The vessel, which was built in 2005, is registered in Liberia and has a carrying capacity of 2,556 TEU.

The regional operational center for surveillance and rescue (CROSS) Gris-Nez reported that it was advised the vessel had experienced damage to its main engine and they approved the vessel anchoring off Cap Gris-Nez while the crew attempted to diagnose and repair the problems. 

After a full day of investigations carried out by the crew, the French authorities reported that the breakdown was not resolved. The weather conditions however on-site had strengthened with winds reported at over 30 m.p.h. and periodic rain. Under the observation of Gris-Nez, the vessel reported that it was drifting and dropping a second anchor in an attempt to stop the movement. 



“Faced with this delicate situation and without reliable prospects for repairs, the CROSS Gris-Nez had the assistance and rescue intervention tug (RIAS) Abeille Normandie de Boulogne (62) cast off, to be able to intervene quickly to take the ship in tow, if necessary,” the authorities reported. 

Overnight, with the efforts by the crew still inconclusive, the maritime prefect, in conjunction with the shipowner, decided to have the HSL Nike taken under tow by the Abeille Normandie. Under the coordination of CROSS Gris-Nez, the container ship raised its two anchors so that the tug could start the tow. The port of Dunkirk was selected to carry out the repairs. The tow arrived at the port of Dunkirk at the end of the day on December 27.

The maritime prefect reports that this towing is the first emergency tow carried out by the RIAS Abeille Normandie since the tug was chartered by the French Navy in June 2022.