Major rescue operation launched to save crew of sinking cargo ship after vessel smashes into barge off Dover coast
A major rescue operation to evacuate crew from a sinking ship is underway in the English Channel after a 200-metre long cargo ship ‘hit a barge full of rocks’. Around 23 people are on board the vessel which has ‘got into trouble’ – with around half so far being evacuated using two helicopters – in the ‘major incident’ three miles south west of Dover near Samphire Hoe. The ship is reported to have lost its engines and is taking on water – and called the UK coastguard at 7.20am to say “it had lost power and steering”.
Unconfirmed reports say it was ‘holed’ in the collision with the unmanned barge. The cargo ship is understood to be called the Saga Sky – yet to be confirmed – which carries a Hong Kong flag.
A coast guard helicopter attends the scene where at least five crew members have been evacuated from a cargo ship (Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)
Some 11 crew members had been evacuated by 11.30am – whose nationalities are remain unknown. The remaining 12 crew members on board are said to be “dealing with issues” – with one report at 11.45am saying it had managed to “regain some power” and was waiting for a tug to arrive ‘imminently’.
Nobody is understood to have been on board the stone barge at the time of the collision, according to the UK coastguard. A spokeswoman for the Marine Accident Investigation Branch confirmed at midday that it is deploying a team to Dover today “and conducting a safety investigation” into the incident – which will look into the causes.
Video LoadingVideo UnavailableClick to play Tap to playThe video will start in 8CancelA rescue helicopter takes off in choppy waters carrying crew from the stricken vessel (Photo: FameFlynet)
The cargo ship has drifted onto a sea shelf known as the Varne Bank. The first pictures of the stricken vessel show a ship with the words Saga Welco on the side.
Helicopters can be seen trying to lift people from the deck as RNLI lifeboats sit nearby. The stone barge that the vessel hit can also be clearly seen in the foreground.
The barge full of stones can be seen near the Saga Sky (Photo: FameFlynet)The stricken vessel – as viewed from the coastline – is in trouble near Dover (Photo: Jim Bennett)
The Dover maritime rescue co-ordination centre has confirmed it is “in the middle of a search and rescue operation”. Earlier Mirror Online reported that Storm Angus winds of 97mph had been registered in the English Channel – and all ferried out of Dover were cancelled this morning.
Unconfirmed reports earlier said the vessel is believed to be drifting towards Folkestone. There are RNLI lifeboats on the scene which launched from Dover and Dungeness – and are standing by the vessel. There are no reports of any fuel leak.
While the boat is confirmed to be taking on water it is not thought to be in danger of sinking.
The incident is taking place near Dover
A tug boat called the Abeille Languedoc has arrived from Boulogne to assist the Saga Sky.
An RNLI spokesman said: “We were requested to launch to go to the aid of the Saga Sky.
Video LoadingVideo UnavailableClick to play Tap to playThe video will start in 8CancelA coast guard helicopter attends the scene where at least five crew members have been evacuated from a cargo ship (Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)
“We know they had difficulty anchoring it because of the weather. “We are just there to monitor – the coastguard are carrying the evacuation.” A coastguard helicopter is understood to have been put on standy.
Waves crashing against Dover harbour wall as Storm Angus hit on Sunday morning (Photo: REUTERS)
A UK coastguard spokeswoman confirmed: “Deal and Dover Coastguard Rescue Teams have been put on standby to help receive crew members rescued from the vessel.”
Duty commander Steve Carson said this morning: “The weather conditions this morning are particularly challenging and we have declared this a major incident. “We are now planning to evacuate the crew from the cargo vessel and our HM Coastguard helicopters from Lydd and Lee-on-Solent are on the scene.” The Saga Sky was built 20 years ago – in 1996 – and is said to carry general cargo.
It is 199.2 metres long by 30.57 metres wide – and was travelling from Brake in Lower Saxony in Germany where it set off from around 40 hours ago (at 10am Sunday morning).
Its destination is uknown.
- ^ rescue (www.mirror.co.uk)
- ^ RNLI (www.mirror.co.uk)
- ^ Mirror Online reported (cms1a.mirror.co.uk)
- ^ RNLI (www.mirror.co.uk)