VLCC collision with yacht avoided in Germany through pilot intervention, DGzRS coordination

It was apparently only the intervention of a fisherman and a pilot that prevented a collision between VLCC ship Magleby Maersk (IMO 9619957) and a sailing yacht in the Outer Weser, north-west Germany during the night of September 1st.

Late in the evening the MRCC of the DGzRS in Bremen received an emergency call that a single-handed sailor’s vessel had suffered water ingress in the Weser fairway while the yacht was northeast of the island of Mellum. The sailor had dropped anchor, but it dragged, and the boat had drifted in the dark into the fairway.

MRCC Bremen immediately alerted two lifeboats from the DGzRS station in Bremerhaven and Hooksiel stations, and warned ships in the area.

However the Bremerhaven traffic centre noted that the container ship was approaching.

By midnight the sailor had stopped responding to radio calls. Meanwhile, a fishing cutter, the Christine, from Fedderwardersiel, was on a fishing trip in the area and offered to help. The fishermen found the 10-metre yacht, which by this time was showing only the faint glow of a flashlight. The boat had lost all power due to the water ingress. There was a swell of one to two metres.

MRCC also deployed a Navy SAR helicopter when it became clear that a collision between the Magleby Maersk and the sailing yacht was a real danger. When the lifeboats arrived on site the fishermen on the Christine had just managed to establish a towing line to the yacht. Meanwhile, the pilot on the Maersk vessel had implemented a minimal course change, and the container ship just missed the yacht as a result.

The sea rescuers went alongside the distressed yacht and handed over a bilge pump to get the water ingress under control. Then they took over the towing line from the cutter and began a long towing trip towards Hooksiel. Lifeboat Bernhard Gruben took over the distressed vessel once the water ingress was under control. The convoy arrived in Hooksiel with her appendage at around 05:30 local time, six hours after the incident first came to the attention of the authorities.

The sailor was uninjured, but severely exhausted.

As of September 3rd the Magleby Maersk was moored at Gdansk Poland, having arrived early on September 3rd.

2014-built, Denmark-flagged, 194,849 gt Magleby Maersk is owned and managed by Maersk AS of Copenhagen, Denmark. It is entered with Britannia on behalf of Maersk AS.