AN 80-metre ship is currently stuck diagonally in a harbour after drifting out into a river early this morning.

The vessel, called Elise, entered Littlehampton harbour at 1.15am and was moored for the discharge of cargo.

But one of the ship's mooring lines parted at about 3.30am, causing the vessel to drift out approximately 30 metres into the River Arun before coming to rest on the remaining mooring lines.

Harbour staff assisted in securing the ship with more lines and it is currently "safely grounded" but further out than usual, the Littlehampton Harbour Board said.

The Argus: Photos: Eddie MitchellPhotos: Eddie Mitchell

The ship is stuck in a diagonal position, and pictures show the huge vessel almost blocking the entire width of the river.

However the river remains open as there is sufficient space to navigate between the vessel and the west bank, the Harbour Board said.

In a statement on their Facebook page, the Littlehampton Harbour Board added that the river would be closed temporarily to bring the ship to an alternate berth.

The board said: "The vessel is currently safely grounded along her full length (only further out than usual) with sufficient lines ashore.

"There is no evidence of damage to the vessel. There has been no pollution or injuries.

The Argus: Photos: Eddie MitchellPhotos: Eddie Mitchell

"She will refloat on the rising tide and the intention is to then return her to an alternate berth at high water about 1pm, to allow discharge to continue.

"A brief closure of the river between the Red Footbridge and Littlehampton Marina will be required at high water today (in a similar to a normal shopping arrival or departure).

"Harbour users should as usual listen to VHF 71 for updates."