At least one dead after 300ft British cargo ship sinks in North Sea collision

A huge British cargo ship has sunk after it collided with another boat in the North Sea off the German coast – as the body of a man has been pulled from the sea during a rescue mission.

The ships, Polesie and Verity, collided in the early morning about 22 kilometres (14 miles) southwest of the island of Helgoland, Germany’s Central Command for Maritime Emergencies said.

One of the ships, the British-flagged Verity, sank and had eight crew members onboard. The body of a man has now been recovered, two others have been rescued and four remain missing.

The emergency command said one person was rescued from the water and was being given medical treatment, and rescuers were searching for several more people who were missing. According to Bild, six sailors are still missing.

Now, it’s been reported that Iona – a P&O cruiseliner that is assisting with the rescue mission has picked up three bodies from the North Sea. There are no reports of whether there have been any fatalities or not.

Passenger Gary Corbin wrote on Facebook: “Two freighters have collided close by us. Iona has picked up 3 bodies. There are helicopters and rescue ships by us. We are involved in the search and rescue operation Not moving at moment,” reports The Mirror.

Verity was headed from Bremen, Germany, to the English port of Immingham.

READ MORE: English Channel search ends after crew member goes overboard

The other ship, the Bahamas-flagged Polesie, remained afloat with 22 people on board.

A number of vessels and emergency services – including a police boat and helicopter – have joined the frantic search for survivors which is being made more treacherous by 30mph winds and 10ft waves.

P&O cruiseliner Iona is among those vessels trying to assist – with a person onboard the Iona saying passengers were told before 6am that the ship was helping in the “distressing” rescue operation.

The 24-year-old told The Sun: “There are helicopters, search vessels and two of our RHIBs helping.

“People are saying…the British ship has sunk. It’s incredibly distressing.

“We set off for Rotterdam from Hamburg yesterday, and we were about 200 metres away from the ships.

“Everyone on here is sad and concerned and in a state of panic.”

A horrifying map has shown the moment the two ships collided.

The German Sea Rescue Society (DGzRS) tweeted: “#Sea rescuers in action: Collision in the German Bight, several people missing. Two cargo ships collided early this morning. Sea rescue cruiser HERMANN MARWEDE of the #DGzRS coordinates numerous search and rescue units.”

It also stated: “A ship collision occurred in the German Bight early on Tuesday morning, October 24, 2023, around 5 am. The cargo ships ‘Polesie’ and ‘Verity’ collided approximately 12 nautical miles (22 kilometers) southwest of the island of Helgoland and 17 nautical miles (31 kilometers) northeast of the island of Langeoog. The emergency command took over overall operational management.

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“The accident command currently assumes that the ‘Verity’ sank as a result of the collision. One person was rescued from the water and is receiving medical care. Several other people are currently missing. The search for the shipwrecked is underway. Numerous ships are in use for this purpose. The ‘Polesie’ is buoyant. She has 22 people on board.

“Currently involved in the search are the sea rescue cruisers HERMANN MARWEDE (Deutsche Bucht/Helgoland station) and BERNHARD GRUBEN (Hooksiel station) of the German Sea Rescue Society (DGzRS), the emergency tug “Nordic”, the pilot tender “Wangerooge”, the water police boat “Sylt and a SAR helicopter “Sea King” from the German Navy.

“The sea rescue cruiser HERMANN MARWEDE is currently coordinating the search on site. Also on the way to the accident site are the sea rescue cruiser ANNELIESE KRAMER (DGzRS, Cuxhaven station), the ATAIR (Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency), the multi-purpose ship MELLUM (Waterways and Shipping Administration) and the water police boat W3.

“The emergency command also has the DO228 sensor aircraft fly over the sea area in order to obtain further information. The cruise ship IONA is in the sea area and is supporting the search. People can also receive medical care on board the IONA; there are doctors on board. The accident command brings additional medical personnel to the scene of the accident by helicopter.

“In the area there are winds of six Beaufort with seas of three meters. The “Verity” [length: 91m, width 14m, flag: United Kingdom] was on the way from Bremen to Immingham in Great Britain, the “Polesie” [length: 190m, width 29m, flag: Bahamas] left Hamburg to La Coruña in Spain.”

A P&O Cruises spokesperson told MailOnline: “P&O Cruises Iona is currently involved in a search and rescue operation off the coast of Germany.

“The incident is ongoing and Iona’s cooperation complies with international maritime law as well as being consistent with the company’s moral and legal obligations.

“Iona is scheduled to be at sea today and this event should have no impact upon tomorrow’s scheduled call to Rotterdam or the onward itinerary.” has approached P&O Cruises for comment.

The other ship – Polesie – had left Hamburg for La Coruna in Spain.

Verity is owned by Faversham Ships.

The desription on its website says that she was built in 2001 by Tille Shipyard, Kootsertille Holland.

It also says that the ship is “equipped for dangerous goods” and “strengthened for heavy cargo up to 15 t/m.”

More to follow…

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