The Resolute had been heading north with no destination or ETA.
RCGS Resolute arrived off the north coast of Trinidad late on March 25th and stopped overnight. On the morning of the 26th she rendezvoused with the tanker Kerkyra, out of Port of Spain, Trinidad, and presumably refueled.
the ship then continued sailing when the ship suddenly began reporting that it was not under command on March 29 about 60 nautical miles off the north coast of Venezuela. the ship drifting at 1.knots less than 20 nautical miles off the uninhabited island of La Tortuga at 13:00 ET.
Not under command is a navigational status indicating that the ship is unable to Maneuver in the water, and all vessels must keep clear.
9 nautical miles off La Tortuga island, and after several hours the ship began steaming again to the west giving Willemstad Curacao as the destination.
In a story that probably couldn’t get much weirder, it now appears the RCGS Resolute collided with and Sunk the Venezuelan Offshore patrol Vessel GC-23 Naiguata at 00:45 on the 30th. the ship gave Willemstad Curacao as its destination yesterday, and arrived this morning where it remains at anchor.
The Venezuelan government issued a release which reads (via google translate)
On March 30, 2020, at 00:45, the Coast Guard «Naiguatá» (GC-23), of the Bolivarian Navy, being in maritime patrol tasks of our territorial sea, to the northwest of La Tortuga Island; It was boarded (collided) by the passenger ship “Resolute”, (122 meters long and 8300 tons of displacement), with the Portuguese flag, at the time it was undergoing a maritime traffic control procedure, which caused damage of great magnitude and caused the anxiety of the aforementioned coastguard.
The action of the ship «Resolute» is considered cowardly and criminal, since it did not attend to the rescue of the crew, in breach of the international regulations that regulate the rescue of life at sea. This ship is currently in the port of Willemstad, the capital of Curaçao, where it docked in the morning of today.
Our immediate search and rescue work, together with the professional and courageous performance of our personnel, allowed the full rescue of the crew. The Venezuelan State undertakes the corresponding legal actions.
Chávez lives!… The Homeland continues!
Independence and Socialist Homeland! … We will live and win!
Always loyal!… Traitors never!
In another statement, the Venezuelan government claims the ship was Illegally in Venezuelan waters. the statement reads (Again via google translate)
Miraflores Palace, Caracas. – The head of state and government of the Republic, Nicolás Maduro Moros, asked the Curaçao authorities for maximum collaboration in the investigations of the Portuguese-flagged ship that entered the jurisdictional waters of Venezuela illegally.
“We ask for the greater collaboration of the maritime, civil, police and military authorities of Curaçao and we will maintain coordination,” said the national president, also denouncing that this ship, docked from the morning hours in the city of Willemstad, collided against the Coast Guard «Naiguatá» (GC-23), causing its collapse, which was described as an act of aggression and piracy.
Last Monday after midnight, the passenger ship “Resolute”, measuring 122 meters long and 8,300 tons of displacement, reached Venezuelan waters, 7 miles from La Tortuga Island, activating the Strategic Operational Command for what that a Venezuelan coast guard ship set sail to board this vessel.
For his part, the Minister of Popular Power for Defense, Vladimir Padrino López, explained that the Venezuelan vessel activated the protocols established in international treaties, where he was ordered to go to the port of Margarita. “Being escorted, he decided to ram the Bolivarian navy ship, which caused its sinking,” he said.
The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Popular Power for Defense have initiated the corresponding formalities at the diplomatic and military levels, respectively, to clarify this case.
However, the Venezuelan state authorities do not rule out the hypothesis that it is a ship that “was transporting mercenaries to attack military bases in Venezuela, unloading them out there on the high seas.”
Presidential Press / Andrelys Carrasquel
Columbia Cruise Services has released a statement as well. It reads:
“In the early morning hours of the 30th of March 2020 (local time), the cruise vessel RCGS RESOLUTE has been subject to an act of aggression by the Venezuelan Navy in international waters, around 13.3 nautical miles from Isla de Tortuga with 32 crew member and no passengers on board.
When the event occurred, the cruise vessel RCGS RESOLUTE has already been drifting for one day off the coast of the island to conduct some routine engine maintenance on its idle voyage to its destination, Willemstad/ Curaçao. As maintenance was being performed on the starboard main engine, the port main engine was kept on standby to maintain a safe distance from the island at any time.
Shortly after mid-night, 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.
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.
While the RCGS RESOLUTE sustained minor damages, not affecting vessel’s seaworthiness, it occurs that the navy vessel suffered severe damages while making contact with the ice-strengthened bulbous bow of the ice-class expedition cruise vessel RCGS RESOLUTE and started to take water.
Ready to support anytime, the RCGS RESOLUTE remained for over one hour in vicinity of the scene and reached out to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) Curaçao. This is an international body which oversees any maritime emergencies. All attempts to contact those on board the navy ship have been left unanswered.
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. A full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident will now be carried out.”
The RCGS Resolute is Flagged in Portugal, and the Portuguese Government is currently in a diplomatic spat with Venezuela, which centered around president Maduros claim that Juan Guaido, who many see as the legitimate president of Venezuela, imported explosives via TAP – the Portuguese national airline. Portugal also recognizes Juan Guaido as the legitimate leader of the country.
Other Nations have in the past has attempted to size ships of other nations over disputes – most notably Iran.
UPDATE: Looks like they tried to hide the loss of the ship by changing the AIS on a tug in Harbour
Before it became obvious that they would not be able to hide the sinking of the Naiguana the regime had the AIS transponder from one of the tug boats in La Guaira harbour changed to match the Naiguana, making it appear as if she was in port and not sunk 180 meters underwater. 🤦 pic.twitter.com/sx0yTj4Pqy— Simón Bolívar (@Simon85205764) April 1, 2020
The Venezuelan Government is now claiming that the expedition zodiacs on board are to transport commandos, and are accusing the ship of carrying mercenaries intent on raiding the country.
there are some supporting tweets to the effect of “likely story, there no way they would use tactical craft like that for tourists.
of course a look at One Ocean Expeditions still up website, shows photos of tourists in those exact same boats…
UPDATE – April 5:
The Venezuelans have now released a video of the incident, as well as audio, and their claims about the ship. (the radio calls are in English, the rest is Spanish)