Salvage operation still underway on the banana boat that ran straight into the Nab Tower

A banana boat which ran straight into the Nab Tower in the Solent in the early hours of Sunday morning is to have her cargo removed today to allow salvage. The Dole America, a reefer which had just left Portsmouth for Antwerp, ran into the 27m Nab Tower at 0400, ripping open the hull and going hard aground by the bow.

The collision and grounding caused three large gashes in the starboard side of the hull, the longest of which is 13m. Two of the holes are under the waterline and holds 2 and 3 of the ship have been flooded. The Dole America has lost 5 tonnes of lubricating oil and a quantity of her cargo of bananas and pineapples.

A barge and crane arrive from Rotterdam today to unload the ship’s 92 containers and fruit from the holds to make salvage easier. At present, the ship is being kept aground by a salvage tug and a naval dockyard tug from Portsmouth.

The Nab Tower is one of the eastern Solent’s best-known conspicuous marks. It has a 16-mile light and is fitted with a racon to boost its radar signal. It is not yet known how the Dole America’s Norwegian master and his Ecuadorian and Filippino crew could have failed to notice the structure, but the Marine Accident Investigation Branch will be conducting an investigation.

The UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency report that it has imposed a 600m temporary exclusion zone around the ship until the salvage is complete.