General open hatch cargo vessel Saga Sky IMO 9144354 issued a distress signal at 07.20 local time in the English Channel off Samphire Hoe, just south of Dover, reporting a collision with an unmanned barge loaded with rocks. Apparently a loss of power and steering caused the vessel to be dragged into the barge.
The Hong Kong-flagged, 200m-long 29,381 grt cargo ship, en route from Germany to Uruguay, suffered a breach of the hull and water ingress. It was decided to evacuate all crew not required to help with the salvage, 11 out of 23 crew in total. French salvage tug Abeille Languedoc and an RNLI Lifeboat approached Saga Sky, which was said to be drifting after suffering loss of power and steering.
However, later in the afternoon the crew managed to regain some power and began heading south. It is not clear what happened to the barge. The collision occurred during Storm Angus, creating strong winds and rain.
Eleven of the 23 crew members were evacuated by helicopter after the ship got into difficulty off Samphire Hoe near Dover.
The coastguard declared the situation “a major incident”, with two helicopters involved in evacuating the crew. Currently there is no sign of pollution.
According to P&I database, the vessel, which was built in 1996, is covered through Skuld’s business unit Skuld Oslo 2, via member and owner Saga Shipholding (Norway) A/S.