A Venezuelan Navy ship sank on March 30th after she collided with the RCGS Resolute (IMO 9000168) in international waters off the island of La Tortuga.
Columbia Cruise Services said that the vessel had 32 crew members on board, but no passengers, when it was subject to an act of aggression by the Venezuelan Navy. Columbia Cruise Services said that the RGCS Resolute was drifting off the coast of La Tortuga while conducting routine engine maintenance, with one engine idling and one undergoing maintenance, prior to her arrival at Willemstad, Curaçao.
The cruise company said that “shortly after midnight, the cruise vessel was approached by an armed Venezuelan navy vessel, which via radio questioning the intentions of the RCGS Resolute’s presence and gave the order to follow to Puerto Moreno on Isla De Margarita. As the RCGS Resolute was sailing in international waters at that time, the Master wanted to reconfirm this particular request, resulting into a serious deviation from the scheduled vessel’s route, with the company DPA”.
The company continued: “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 navy vessel continued to ram the starboard bow in an apparent attempt to turn the ship’s head towards Venezuelan territorial waters”.
The reinforced hull was well able to withstand the ramming, but the Navy ship damaged herself when hitting the Resolute’s bulbous bow, and sank as a result.
The Venezuelan Navy called the Resolute’s actions cowardly and criminal, claiming that the Resolute did not stop to attend the rescue. The Navy said the 1,500 dwt 80-metre littoral surveillance ship was the Naiguatá, and that she was conducting maritime traffic control when it was struck by the Resolute.
The Venezuelan government doubled down, speculating that it that the Resolute “was transporting mercenaries to attack military bases in Venezuela, unloading them out there on the high seas.” It also released a video taken from the Naiguatá which appeared to show the Resolute ramming the naval vessel, causing severe damage.
Columbia Cruise Service responded, stating that the Resolute remained on scene for over an hour and alerted the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Curaçao, which eventually ordered the Resolute to proceed to Willemstad, where she remains docked.
“Only after receiving the order to resume passage full ahead by the MRCC and that further assistance is not required, the RCGS Resolute, currently safely moored in the port of Willemstad, continued sailing towards her destination at Curaçao”, the cruise company said.
1991-built, Portugal-flagged, 8,445 gt RCGS Resolute is owned by Bunny’s Adventure & Cruise care of manager One Ocean Expeditions of Squamish, British Colombia, Canada. ISM manager is Columbia Cruise Services GmbH of Hamburg, Germany. It is entered with UK Club (Area Group Americas G7) on behalf of Bunnys Adventure & Cruise Shipping Co Ltd (since November 2019, previously member was One Ocean Expeditions).