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Eemslift Hendrika; Image Credit: Norwegian Coast Guard

Picture the scene: it’s April 5, 2021, and the 4,200 dwt Eemslift Hendrika, a Dutch lift/cargo ship, is in trouble around 60 nautical miles off the Norwegian coast. En route from Germany to Norway, the ship has found itself caught in extremely bad weather, rocked by swell heavy enough to shift the onboard cargo. To make matters worse, the vessel has lost its propulsion. Now listing 15–30 degrees to starboard, the Hendrika, with its 12 crew members, is in imminent danger of capsizing.

It sounds like a disaster waiting to happen – so how did the salvage team overcome the odds and pull off an astounding rescue?

A success story against all odds

When the Norwegian authorities arrived on the scene, it was clear that the bad weather conditions (15-meter waves and 40+ mph winds) made a traditional steel wire rope connection a no-go. Although they were able to evacuate the crew by helicopter, the ship was now drifting toward the coast, where it could run aground and potentially pollute sensitive natural environments with its cargo of heavy fuel oil and diesel. With no time to lose, the salvage team reached out to Dyneema®’s trusted partner Offshore Trawl & Supply (OTS) to request two lightweight tow lines.

In a matter of hours, OTS delivered two Dextron® towing ropes – made with Dyneema® SK78 fiber – to the authorities. The 200-meter ropes could withstand loads of 200 and 250 tons respectively, while still being light enough to be transported via a Coastguard Fast Rescue Boat, something that would have been impossible with steel ropes.

On April 7, with the vessel just 10 nautical miles from the coast, the salvage team secured the Dyneema®-based ropes between the ship and two tugs (one at the front and one at the rear). The Hendrika was successfully towed into port at Ålesund without polluting the delicate environment. A dramatic rescue had become a remarkable success.

“Thank you so much for your fantastic efforts on April 6. There aren’t many – if any – others who could deliver two Dyneema®-based ropes for 200-ton emergency towing.” A heartfelt message from Eirik Klokkersund, Vessel Manager at Solstad Offshore, to Dyneema® partner OTS

Image credit: Offshore and Trawl Supply AS

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Strong fibers, strong teamwork

Costa Concordia lying aground in front of the Isola del Giglio (Giglio island) after hitting underwater rocks on January 13, 2012

Of course, this wasn’t the first time OTS has contributed to a major rescue operation at sea. Ropes from OTS helped to raise the cruise ship Costa Concordia after it ran aground and sank in the Mediterranean in 2012, and to salvage the cruise ship Viking Sky before it drifted ashore at Hustadvika in 2017. According to Arve Helseth, Sales & Marketing Manager at OTS, it’s all thanks to OTS’s ability to deliver quick turnaround times: “We have one of the most modern rope-production factories in Europe. With skilled employees, flexible production, and short lines of command, we’re able to respond and act quickly in urgent situations.”

At Dyneema®, we’re proud to work with partners like OTS and to be part of the solution to extreme maritime challenges like the Hendrika rescue. Whether you need to protect people, payload, or planet, you can count on the world’s strongest fiber™ to perform when it matters most.

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