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Update: six-metre waves delay bid to rescue drifting service vessel

The AQS Tor drifting in the sea. An attempt will be made to tow the vessel when the weather eases. Photo: Coast Guard / KV Bergen.
The AQS Tor drifting in the sea. An attempt will be made to tow the vessel when the weather eases. Photo: Coast Guard / KV Bergen.

A tug boat crew attempting to salvage a new aquaculture service vessel that was washed from the deck of a stricken cargo ship are now likely to try to attach a tow line tomorrow.

The 26-metre AQS Tor was among three service boats being transported to ship supplier Moen Marin by the Dutch freighter Eemslift Hendrika, which started listing dangerously when cargo in its hold shifted during stormy conditions on Monday. 

With the ship in danger of capsizing, the 12-strong crew were airlifted to safety. It remains afloat, with hopes that it can be brought under tow when the sea becomes calmer.

Tugboat

The AQS Tor was due to join the fleet of fish farming services company AQS, which has 18 service vessels and 150 employees. It was separated from the Eemslift Hendrika at some time between Monday night and Tuesday morning, and is also afloat. AQS, in collaboration with Moen Marin and insurer Gjensidige, has engaged tugboat supplier Stadt Sea Transport to try to salvage the service boat.

According to a status update from Stadt Sea Transport, there is now a small gale from the north, as well as rough sea with a significant wave height around 6 metres (4m swell), but the weather is forecast to improve.

Due to the movements in the AQS Tor and floating ropes, the captain of the Stadt Sløvåg tug has decided to wait for attempts to connect a tow. AQS Tor is drifting south and seaworthiness appears to be intact, according to the update.

“The captain now assumes that they can connect early tomorrow,” said Ove Magne Ribsskog, communications manager at AQS.

Waiting for the weather

Earlier, Stadt Sea Transport general manager Per Wilhelm Saltvedt said contact has been established with the coastguard ship Sortland, which is located in the area and is monitoring the AQS Tor and the Eemslift Hendrika.

“It seems that the weather will calm down during the day. We are waiting for the weather and will not do anything until it is safe and sound. The wave height is expected to decrease over time,” said Saltvedt.

The Stadt Sløvåg will attempt to tow the AQS Tor with the weather, probably in the direction of Måløy or Florø.

AQS general manager Ove Løfsnæs is hopeful the vessel can be saved. “It looks promising,” he said.