Salvage crews secure drifting Dutch cargo ship off Norway

Despite heavy seas, a joint Norwegian-Dutch salvage operation has managed to get an abandoned Dutch cargo ship under control off the coast of Norway and is towing the ship to port

HELSINKI -- Despite heavy seas, a joint Norwegian-Dutch salvage operation managed to get an abandoned Dutch cargo ship under control off the coast of Norway and was towing the vessel to port on Thursday.

Norwegian officials said the rescue operation of the Eemslift Hendrika, a Netherlands-registered ship designed to carry large boats, was completed early Thursday and the ship is slowly being towed to the western city of Alesund.

The ship's crew of 12 was rescued by helicopter late Monday after a power outage in its main engine. The Norwegian Coastal Administration, based in Alesund, launched salvage operation late Wednesday as it became clear that churning seas could make the drifting ship crash into the shore.

The vessel has substantial quantities of diesel and fuel in its tanks, which could have caused an environmental disaster. Norwegian maritime authorities issued an emergency alert late Wednesday and started preparations in case of an oil spill.

The Eemslift Hendrika was adrift in the area where the North Sea and Norwegian Sea meet. Salvage experts were lowered onto the sharply listing ship Wednesday to attach towing ropes to waiting tug boats.

One large boat aboard the deck of the 6-year-old cargo ship fell off in heavy seas Tuesday but was found by the Norwegian coast guard and secured to another tug boat.