Cruise ships just can’t get a break right now.
Cruise liners are having a real hard time of late — so spare a thought for the RCGS Resolute.
The Portuguese liner was purposely rammed by a Venezuelan warship on Monday… and it didn’t even have any coronavirus patients on board.
In fact, the Resolute had no passengers on board at all, and was drifting 13 miles off the coast of Isla La Tortuga and conducting repairs, when it said it was accosted by the Venezuelan Navy patrol boat ANBV Naiguatá, which accused it of violating territorial waters.
Luckily for the aptly named Resolute, it is equipped with a reinforced hull specifically for sailing through icy Antarctic waters, while the Naiguatá was not. The cruise liner continued on with a few scratches on its bow, while the battleship sank.
According to the German-headquartered Columbia Cruise Services, the "act of aggression" occurred shortly after midnight.
In a release, it said the Resolute’s master was radioing head office to tell them about the order from the Naiguatá, when gunshots were fired. The attack ship boasts a 76mm main gun turret, two 20mm cannons, and a pair of .50 caliber machine guns.
"… the navy vessel approached the starboard side at speed with an angle of 135° and purposely collided with the RCGS RESOLUTE," the company said.
"The navy vessel continued to ram the starboard bow in an apparent attempt to turn the ship’s head towards Venezuelan territorial waters."
While the Portuguese-flagged Resolute suffered "minor damages, not affecting vessel’s seaworthiness", the Naiguatá wasn’t so lucky, and booked itself a one way trip to the ocean floor.
After contacting the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre Curaçao — the international body that coordinates all maritime emergencies — and hanging around for an hour, the liner was given the go-ahead to continue on its journey. It said all attempts to contact the sinking Naiguatá were ignored.
According to The Drive, the Venezuelan government had a different version of events: It said the Resolute "in a cowardly and criminal manner fled collision site and didn’t try to rescue the crew of sinking ship", after its "act of imperial aggression" and "piracy".
There is plenty of political tension between Venezuela and other nations, including Portugal and the United States, thanks in no small part to the disputed presidency of Nicolás Maduro; he is wanted in the US on drug trafficking charges, with the State Department offering a $15million bounty for information that will help "bring him to justice".
At the latest coronavirus update on Wednesday, President Donald Trump announced he was deploying warships to Venezuela as part of a counter-narcotics operation.
Meanwhile, the US Coast Guard has warned all foreign-flagged cruise ships to be prepared to either care for passengers with COVID-19 for an "indefinite period of time" at sea, or to seek help from other countries, as the health system here is under too much pressure to handle any more.
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