The listing car carrier Hoegh Osaka returned to the Port of Southampton last night, bringing the salvors’ 19-day mission to a close

The Hoegh Osaka was successfully returned to the Port of Southampton last night, after salvage firm Svitzer completed its 19-day mission.

The 51,000-tonne car carrier, which was deliberately run aground on Bramble Bank in the Solent on 3 January, was escorted by four tugs on the three-hour journey from its holding position at Alpha Anchorage.

Despite salvors pumping 3,000 tonnes of water out of the repaired hull, the vessel still had a five degree list to starboard.

The Hoegh Osaka is currently moored at Berth 101, while investigators from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) continue to gather information for their official report.

Cargo complications

Surveyors are also expected to board the vessel in the coming days before the cargo is unloaded.

It is still unclear what will happen to the cars and heavy machinery on board, which the BBC estimates is worth more than £60m.

The vessel’s owners Hoegh Autoliners said in a statement: “A lot of work remains, physical as well as legal.

“But the main thing is that the crew is safe, that no pollution to the environment has occurred, that the traffic in and out of the port has been largely uninterrupted, and the cargo soon can be accessed so our customers can get some clarity in their business continuity plans.

“We thank everyone who have been involved in the challenging rescue and salvage operation.”