Two freighters collided in the Baltic Sea early Monday morning at the point separating the Danish-owned island of Bornholm from the Swedish coast, Denmark’s Joint Defence Operations Centre (JOC) said.
One of the vessels is the Danish-registered Karin Hoej, while the other is the UK-registered Scot Carrier.
The collision occurred in the early morning at around 3:30 am (local time).
An automatic vessel distress signal alarm was activated on the Danish vessel.
“We have sent a helicopter from our emergency services and a rescue boat from Rønne to the area,” the duty officer of the Danish Defence Operations Centre reported early Monday morning.
Until the accident occurred, the two ships were travelling on a similar course (roughly south-east) along the waterway between Bornholm and Ystad. This is one of the main, busiest transport arteries in the Baltic, with most of the traffic between the Danish Straits and Russia, Finland, eastern Sweden and the Baltic States. It is used by large tankers from Russian ports and large container ships sailing to Gdansk, among others, and is crossed with fairly high frequency by ferries, including high-speed ferries between Bornholm and Ystad.
The Danish ship appears to have capsized. There were two people on board, and we do not yet know what happened to them. The British ship, on the other hand, did not suffer much damage, its crew is safe, JOC reported.
It is possible that the Scot Carrier, being the faster vessel, ran into the stern of the Danish one.
The Scot Carrier had left the port of Salacgriva in Latvia on 11 December and was en route to Montrose in the UK.
The Karin Høj had been operating from Koping in Sweden in recent weeks, but the last port of call before her fateful voyage was Sodertalje, which she left on 10 December. The ship was bound for Nykøbing Falster on the Danish islands of Lolland and Falster, where she was expected to arrive around midday on Tuesday, 14 December.
The Karin Høj (Karin Hoej), is a hopper barge, the vessel used to transport dredged spoil. A distinctive feature of these vessels is that they can discharge independently and quickly by opening bottom doors or sides or, as in the case of the vessel which has just been involved in an accident, by opening the entire hull (like a bulk carrier) which is split symmetrically into two halves and hinged together on deck.
The accident happened in Swedish territorial waters. Denmark assisted the Swedish authorities in the rescue operation. A rescue ship was dispatched from the island of Bornholm and a helicopter was sent from the Danish coast, Reuters reported.
“It is assumed that the ship capsized quite quickly as there are no life-saving devices on it. This means that no lifebuoy or life rafts were released/used. So it is likely that a very short period of time elapsed between the moment the British mini-mass carrier allegedly rammed the Danish hopper barge and the moment it capsized,” Jesper Berthelsen, duty officer of the Danish Armed Forces Operations Centre, told the media.
The cause of the collision is not yet known, but the Swedish Coast Guard said that “a preliminary investigation into gross negligence in maritime traffic is being conducted under the direction of prosecutors”.
The fog was reported in the area at the time of the accident.
Karin Høj (IMO number 8685844; year of construction – 1977; flag state – DIS, Danish open register; shipowner and operator – Høj A/S, Denmark; length overall – 55.06 m, breadth structural – 9.20 m, draft – 2.90 m, side height – 3.20 m; gross tonnage – 408, deadweight – 492 t, hopper capacity – 510 m³; propulsion – 2 outboard azimuth thrusters with a total power of 590 kW / 802 hp).
The Scot Carrier is a vessel of the ECO Trader 4800 project – a universal vessel for short sea shipping or, as we used to say in our country, for small coastal shipping (coaster). Functionally, it is essentially a universal mini-bulk carrier.
Scot Carrier (IMO Nr. 9841782; year of construction – 2018; flag state – Great Britain; owner, operator – Scotline Ltd, Great Britain, managing owner, technical management – Intrada Ships Management Ltd, Great Britain; length overall – 89,98 m, breadth structural – 15,20 m, draught – 5,692 m, side height – 6,60 m; gross tonnage – 3450, deadweight – 4789 t, displacement – 6248 t; power of main engine – 1850 kW / 2515 hp; top speed – 14 knots, service speed – 11 knots).