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Venezuelan Warship Shoots, Rams Into Passenger Cruise Vessel Before Sinking

The incident occurred at 13 nautical miles on the coast of Isla de Tortuga after warship issued warnings to the cruise of violation of territorial waters.


A Venezuelan naval warship named Naiguata used for offshore patrolling was sent to intercept a German-owned vessel, it fired warning shots, rammed several times into the passenger cruise, and accidentally sank itself in the Caribbean Sea with no injuries recorded. Venezuelan President, Nicolás Maduro, an Iranian ally, had reportedly accused the RCGS Resolute cruise ship of “terrorism and piracy" and had sought to steer the vessel’s direction in the sea. The cruise ship was sailing under a Portuguese flag, with no passengers, and was detected with a “reinforced hull” that withstood it through iceberg infested water, according to the statement released. 

The incident occurred at 13 nautical miles on the coast of Isla de Tortuga, a Venezuelan island. The warship Naiguata reportedly issued warnings to Resolute of violation of Venezuelan territorial waters and commanded it to follow the war vessel to the Venezuela port of Puerto Moreno. The cruise liner halted on the pretext of consultation with the home office, in no time, the naval vessel started firing at the cruise ship and rammed it several times not realizing the ship’s hull wasn’t ordinary. Because the hull of the cruise was stronger than average, the GC-23 Naiguata wrecked after the collision and perished in the sea. 

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Ship's actions “cowardly and criminal”

Columbia Cruise Services, operators of the Resolute, described the ship’s hull as “high-density steel plating” efficient to sail in “ice-laden large waters” on the official website. They asserted in a statement that the armed Venezuelan Navy attacked the ship when it was in process of confirmation with the operators about the deviation of the planned voyage. The naval officers in the warship resorted to shooting at the cruise’s starboard side and ramming it repeatedly. However, the ship sustained severe damage due to its seaworthiness, the statement read. An operator at Resolute said in the press briefing that after contacting maritime rescue authorities in Curacao, the ship waited on the scene for one hour, and got underway for Willemstad when MRCC Curacao released it. 

The government of Venezuela, however, accused the ship of departing the scene without orders and regretted the loss of its patrol vessel. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said in a statement that Resolute’s actions were “cowardly and criminal”. He said that the cruise did not attend to the naval crew, which is a breach of the international regulations of the rescue of life at sea protocols. "We ask for the greater collaboration of the maritime, civil, police and military authorities of Curaçao and we will maintain coordination," said Maduro in the statement.

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