A Venezuelan naval boat attempted to ram a German-owned passenger cruise liner multiple times before the Venezuelan vessel sprung a leak and sunk.
The incident occurred on Monday in international waters off Venezuela’s northern coast, Columbia Cruise Services said in a statement. The cruise ship, the RCGS Resolute, was reportedly undergoing maintenance approximately 13 miles out at sea when the Venezuelan naval vessel approached the cruise ship.
As the Venezuelan vessel first approached the cruise ship, the company said they were ordered to follow the vessel to Puerto Moreno on the Venezuelan island of Isla De Margarita. The master of the cruise ship reportedly questioned the lawfulness of the order, as the ship was international waters and the order would have deviated the ship from its scheduled route.
“While the Master was in contact with the head office, gun shots were fired and, shortly thereafter, the navy vessel approached the starboard side at speed with an angle of 135° and purposely collided with the RCGS RESOLUTE,” the company statement read. “The navy vessel continued to ram the starboard bow in an apparent attempt to turn the ship’s head towards Venezuelan territorial waters.”
The cruise ship reported minimal damage, and photos posted to Twitter later on showed scratches on the prow of the ship.
RCGS Resolute with very minimal damage after the collision. Venezuelan navy say the Naiguata was seriously damaged then sunk. pic.twitter.com/DCLCYp9SkT
— CNW (@ConflictsW) March 31, 2020
The RCGS Resolute is an ice-class expedition cruise vessel and has reportedly been fitted protective measures for sailing through ice, including high density steel plating and small frame spacing on her hull, according to the vessel’s One Ocean Expedition profile.
“While the RCGS RESOLUTE sustained minor damages, not affecting vessel’s seaworthiness, it occurs that 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,” the statement on the incident continued.
The cruise ship reportedly stayed by the damaged Venezuelan vessel for over an hour near the scene of the initial attack. The company stated it reached out to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) on the island of Curaçao. Several efforts to contact the naval vessel were made, but reportedly received no reply.
The Venezuelan government disputed the cruise ship’s version of events. In it’s statement, the Venezuelan Coast Guard ship, indentified as the Naiguatá, responded to intercept the RCGS Resolute amid claims it was sailing through Venezuelan territorial waters. The Venezuelan statement further claims that the cruise ship “boarded (collided)” by the cruise ship and then that the cruise ship did not attend to the rescue of the Venezuelan naval vessel, in an act the Venezuelan government described as “cowardly and criminal.”