The Venezuelan Navy offshore patrol vessel Naiguata, sent to intercept a lowly cruise ship, accidentally owned itself on Monday. After ramming the cruise ship RCGS Resolute'ssteel-reinforced hull, the patrol boat sank. (The good news: There were no injuries.)
According to Maritime Executive, the incident took place 13 nautical miles off the coast of Isla de Tortuga, an uninhabited Venezuelan island. The Naiguata ordered the Resolute to follow it to Venezuela and port, on the pretext of “violation of Venezuelan territorial waters.”
While the cruise ship crew was consulting with the home office, the navy vessel fired several warning shots and began ramming the cruise ship.
The Naiguata ended up sinking. According to Columbia Cruise Services, Resolute stayed in the vicinity until the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) Curaçao, the authority responsible for local incidents at sea, told it to continue on its voyage. Resolute also claims that offers to lend aid to the stricken ship were “left unanswered.”
The Venezuelan military disputed that, stating “the action of the ship Resolute is considered cowardly and criminal, since it did not attend to the rescue of the crew, in breach of the international regulations that regulate the rescue of life at sea.”
Turns out you shouldn't ram a cruise ship built to withstand sea ice.
In a statement, RCGS Resolute's operator asserted that the cruise ship was approached by an armed Venezuelan Navy vessel at a position about 13 nm off Isla de Tortuga. The Resolute was drifting with one engine idling and one engine undergoing maintenance. The Venezuelan vessel ordered Resolute's crew to follow to the port of Puerto Moreno, Isla de Margarita. As this would result in a deviation from the cruise ship's planned voyage, the master sought to confirm with the shipowner before complying with the request.
While the Resolute was consulting with the home office, the Venezuelan Navy vessel allegedly fired shots and then purposely collided with the Resolute's starboard side. The ramming was repeateded, the firm said, until the Venezuelan vessel encountered Resolute's hardened bulbous bow and sustained severe damage. Resolute did not suffer any harm affecting her seaworthiness, and after contacting maritime rescue authorities in Curacao, she waited on scene for one hour, her operator said. After MRCC Curacao released her from the scene, she got under way for Willemstad.
In a second statement attributed to Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro, the government in Caracas alleged that the Resolute collided with the Naiguata in an "act of aggression and piracy." Further, the government speculated that it could not rule out that Resolute “was transporting mercenaries to attack military bases in Venezuela, unloading them out there on the high seas.”