Crews Working to Refloat One of World’s Biggest Containerships Still Stuck in Germany

The CSCL Indian Ocean aground in the Elbe River, February 7, 2016. Photo credit: Central Command for Maritime Emergencies
The CSCL Indian Ocean aground in the Elbe River, February 7, 2016. Photo credit: Central Command for Maritime Emergencies

One of the world’s biggest containerships remains hard aground in Germany’s Elbe River just outside the shipping channel leading to the port of Hamburg. 

Since the grounding of CSCL Indian Ocean last Wednesday night, crews have worked to lighten the ship and dredge soil from around the vessel in preparation for the next towing attempt scheduled for early Tuesday morning. 

So far, crews lightened the ship by 6,500 tons through the removal of heavy fuel oil, gas and ballast water, according to the latest figures by Germany Central Command for Maritime Emergencies (CCME). Dredgers have also been working to remove 45,000 square meters of soil from around the entire starboard side, bow and stern of the ship,

The next attempt to tow the vessel is scheduled for 2 a.m. Tuesday morning when high water is expected to be 1.2 meters above the average high tide due to a spring tide. The CCME says up to 12 tugs with a total bollard pull of 1,085 tons will be involved in the operation, which it says could take several hours to complete.

The Hong Kong-flagged CSCL Indian Ocean was sailing from Felixstowe to the Hamburg when it ran aground in Elbe River at about 11 p.m. February 3rd. Attempts to refloat the vessel that night and again on Friday were unsuccessful. By Friday afternoon officials said that the ship would be stuck for days as crews awaited Tuesday morning’s especially high tide.

The CSCL Indian Ocean is part of China Shipping Container Lines fleet, a unit of China Shipping Group. It is one of 5 CSCL ships with 19,100 teu capacity and measuring 399.6 meters long by 58.6 meters wide.

The vessel is part of a new breed of ultra large containerships (ULCVs) built to carry more than 18,000 twenty foot containers from Asia to northern Europe. The incident is so far the most serious involving a ship of this size and has heightened public concerns over the safety of these giants vessels.

No pollution has been reported so far.