Venezuelan Coast Guard Vessel Sinks After Colliding with Portuguese Passenger Ship

A Venezuelan Navy Coast Guard Command patrol vessel sank after a collision with a Portugal-registered cruise ship in the Caribbean on March 30.

According to a statement from the Venezuelan Ministry of Defense, the patrol vessel ANBV Naiguatá (GC-23) was conducting maritime patrol duties in the country’s territorial sea northwest of La Tortuga island when it collided with RCGS Resolute at around 00:45 local time.

The Defense Ministry said that there were 44 people on board the vessel. It accused that Resolute continued to sail to its destination Curaçao, a Dutch Caribbean island, without rescuing the Venezuelan crew of the sinking vessel.

The Ministry statement called Resolute’s action “cowardly and criminal” since it did not attend the rescue of the crew, in “breach of international regulations that regulate the rescue at sea”. The statement said that Resolute is currently in the port of Willemstad, the capital of Curacao.

“Our immediate search and rescue work, coupled with the professional and courageous performance of our crew, allowed the rescue of the entire crew”, the statement said adding that Venezuela will take “corresponding legal action”.

Statement from Columbia Cruise Services:

The operator of the passenger ship, Columbia Cruise Services, has released a statement on the incident on April 1. The statement accused the  Venezuelan Navy of “act of aggression” while sailing in the international waters.

The statement said that the Venezuelan patrol boat initially fired shots at the ship and then rammed the starboard bow in an “apparent attempt to turn the ship’s head towards Venezuelan territorial waters”. It added that RCGS RESOLUTE sustained minor damages which did not affect the vessel’s seaworthiness.

According to Columbia Cruise Services, the navy vessel suffered severe damages while making contact with the ice-strengthened bulbous bow of the ice-class expedition cruise vessel RCGS RESOLUTE and started to take water. RCGS Resolute is a purpose-built ship capable of conducting polar (Antarctic and Arctic) expeditions with the highest ice class (Lloyds 1AS).

The statement also said that RCGS RESOLUTE remained for over one hour in the vicinity of the scene and reached out to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) Curaçao adding that all attempts to contact those on board the navy ship were left unanswered. The cruise ship then continued its journey to Willemstad after receiving the order to resume passage full ahead by the MRCC.

“A full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident will now be carried out”, the statement said.

 RCGS Resolute in Aberdeen, Scotland. Photo by Rab,Driver of P300NJB @Grampian Continental/ Wikimedia Commons.
RCGS Resolute in Aberdeen, Scotland. Photo by Rab,Driver of P300NJB @Grampian Continental/ Wikimedia Commons.

ANBV Naiguatá (GC-23)

ANBV Naiguatá (GC-23) is a Guaicamacuto-class patrol boat operated by the Venezuelan Navy’s Coast Guard Command. The vessel, based on Navntia’s Avante 1400 design, was constructed at the Navantia shipyards in the Cadiz town of San Fernando, Spain.

The Guaicamacuto-class vessels are called as BVL (Spanish: Buque de Vigilancia de Litoral, “Coastal Surveillance Ship”) in Venezuela and are used for patrol duty in the economic exclusive zone (EEZ).

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