[Video] Crew Abandons Heavy-Lift Ship After Cargo Shifts in Storm

listing Dutch cargo ship abandon in storm off Norway
Emmslift Hendrika is abandon and listing in heavy seas (HRS Sor-Norge photo)

Published Apr 5, 2021 3:14 PM by The Maritime Executive

Norwegian rescue teams are responding to distress calls from a Dutch cargo ship caught in heavy seas off the Norwegian coast. The crew has been removed from the ship as the captain and authorities fear the vessel might capsize in heavy seas.

A Dutch-flagged heavy-lift cargo ship, the 4,200 dwt Eemslift Hendrika, called for assistance earlier today after the cargo aboard the vessel shifted in a storm as the vessel was sailing north along the Norwegian coast. The lift ship had departed Bremerhaven, Germany bound for Kolvereid, Norway. Norwegian rescue authorities report that the 336-foot-long vessel was approximately 60 nautical miles west of Alesund, Norway when parts of its cargo shifted causing the vessel to list between 15 and 30 degrees to starboard into heavy seas.

The Norwegian authorities initially dispatched three helicopters and two rescue vessels to coordinate the efforts on the scene. Arriving at the vessel, they reported seas were running 10 to 15 meters and winds were a strong to severe gale with maintained speeds over 40 mph.

Initially, it was decided to airlift eight of the twelve crew members from the vessel to Alesund. The captain and three crew members remained aboard during the day attempting to steer the Eemslift Hendrika into the weather and stabilize the cargo. The Norwegian authorities assisted by airlifting two bilge pumps to begin pumping out seawater that was leaking into the cargo hold. 

The vessel’s owner told the Norwegian media that the situation was stable aboard the vessel, and they were hoping that the weather would subside so that the vessel could proceed to a nearby port.

Late reports from the Norwegian authorities however are that the weather had not calmed and by late in the day, the captain felt it was no longer safe for the crew to remain aboard. The captain and three remaining crew members were airlifted off the ship by a Norwegian SAR helicopter. Some reports indicate that one of the crew members was injured and was taken to a hospital.

The Norwegian Coastal Administration and the shipping company were reported to be working on a plan for handling the vessel in hopes that it would remain afloat overnight, and that the weather would calm sufficiently to permit a salvage effort.