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The ship was on its way to Germany when it ran on to the Brambles bank, in the entrance to Southampton Water, at about 21:30 GMT, the RNLI said.
The ship's crew are being rescued from the water and onboard the stricken vessel, which is listing at 45 degrees.
Controller Andrew Jenkins added: "What they'll probably do is do some assessments of the vessel, check the hull, make sure there's no ingress of water, and the integrity of the hull is intact.
"Then they'll look at the best ways of removing the vessel, whether that's via refloating it on the next tide, or having to bring in other equipment to remove it."
In a statement, Hoegh Autoliners said the ship "suffered a heavy list earlier yesterday evening after leaving Southampton Port".
It said: "The crew have been taken to HMS Daedalus at Stubbington by helicopter [and] the Marine Accident Incident Branch (MAIB) has been informed.
"The crew confirmed the vessel was not taking in any water."
A spokesman said an operation to re-float the ship was under way and it was not "a lost cause".
originally posted by: eccentriclady
Last night the high tide unexpectedly refloated the ship, the last I heard was about 8.30pm it was slowly heading towards portsmouth then it regrounded between hill head and lee on solent. I am going down to the beach this afternoon to see what the situation is now.