Vessel stuck on Elbe is afloat again

Vessel stuck on Elbe is afloat again
The vessel was en route to Hamburg from Felixstowe

The 19,000 teu vessel aground on the river Elbe for over five days is afloat again after a successful attempt to free it by taking advantage of the high spring tide on February 9.

Following two failed attempts last week, five tugs dragged the China Shipping Container Lines (CSCL)’s Indian Ocean vessel into the navigation channel and towed it to the Port of Hamburg in an operation planned last week by Germany’s Central Command for Maritime Emergencies (CCME), which took over managing the incident, to take advantage of the full moon high tide.

The vessel, which was stranded on February 3 around 25 km ahead of the Port of Hamburg due to a technical failure, arrived at the port at 6.15am (CET) on February 9, following a 20-minute operation to drag the ship back into the navigation channel which began at about 2am (CET) and involved a total of 12 tugs.

Prior to the rescue, dredging to clear around the ship’s hull was carried out on February 6 following CCME’s order, while ballast water was removed from the ship and some heavy fuel oil was pumped out to make it lighter. 

The CCME reported that according to the first results of test procedures performed following the rescue, all systems on board were running fine and the rudder was in full operation.

Ben Lodemann, chairman of the Lotsenbrüderschaft Elbe pilot association, which provides pilotage service on the River Elbe, said in a statement: “Once again we have seen that in this special situation on the Elbe, all emergency services worked very professionally and effectively together, making the Elbe very safe pilotage waters.”

The 400-m long vessel, which was en route from Felixstowe to the Eurogate terminal at the Port of Hamburg, reportedly experienced a steering malfunction while approaching Hamburg.

The Port of Hamburg said in a statement last week that maritime traffic was not impaired, adding that other vessels were still able to reach the port.

According to local media, the incident has sparked controversy as local politicians, residents and environmentalists expressed concerns that the risk of incidents in the area is increasing alongside the size of vessels.