Norwegian officials were worrying about serious environmental damage after a Dutch cargo ship floundered in stormy seas off Ålesund on Monday and then lost power. All 12 crew members have since been rescued and the vessel remained adrift on Tuesday, with 350 tons of heavy oil and 50 tons of diesel on board as it drifted towards the coast.
Norwegian rescue crews responded with two vessels and three helicopters. Eight crew members were initially evacuated from the vessel while the captain and three crew members remained on board in an effort to stabilize the vessel. By Monday night, the vessel had lost power and then the last four were airlifted up to a rescue helicopter amidst dramatic weather conditions and 15-meter-high waves.
To see video and photos sent to NRK, click here (external link, in Norwegian).
“If the ship capsizes, we’re worried about spills,” Hans-Petter Mortensholm of the coastal administration Kystverket told state broadcaster NRK. The vessel’s Dutch owner, Amasus Shipping, has hired in Smit Salvage and a Coast Guard vessel was on its way to the scene.
The vessel, Eemslift Hendrika, was on its way to Kolvereid north of Trondheim and carrying smaller vessels clearly visible on its deck when it sent out its first call for help Monday morning. It was drifiting towards Norway’s scenic West Cape at Stad as of midday Tuesday but may also capsize and sink, setting off alarms at Norwegian environmental organizations that feared what one called “an environmental catastophe along the Møre Coast.”
All 12 crew members, meanwhile, were tested for Covid-19 upon arrival on land and taken to the Ålesund Airport Hotel in Giske, where they could recover from their frightening ordeal. Local businesses provided clothing, shoes and toiletries to the crew who had to leave all their belongings behind on the ship. “Our job is to first and foremost take care of them, give them food and warmth,” Giske Mayor Harry Valderhaug told NRK. “We’ll also make sure they get the help they need.”