A Venezuelan Navy vessel opened fire on a German cruise ship but sank after it sustained "severe damages" while ramming the luxury liner on Monday morning.
The RCGS Resolute, a 123-meter-long cruise ship equipped for polar expeditions, was performing routine maintenance in international waters off the coast of Venezuela on Monday morning, according to a statement by Columbia Cruise Services, which manages the ship. Soon, a Venezuelan patrol boat approached, demanding that the ship divert its course to a Venezuelan port. The patrol boat then opened fire on the Resolute and repeatedly rammed it.
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The Resolute has a reinforced hull built to survive in arctic conditions and sustained only "minor damages" in the encounter. The same could not be said for its aggressor.
"While the RCGS RESOLUTE sustained minor damages, not affecting [the] 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," the statement read.
The Resolute repeatedly offered help to its crew, but the Venezuelan sailors did not answer the Resolute‘s hails, according to the statement. The cruise ship ultimately left the area after an international maritime authority told the Resolute that its assistance was not necessary. The ship soon safely docked at its intended destination of Curaçao.
The Venezuelan government acknowledged the naval encounter but claimed the Resolute was in Venezuelan territorial waters during the incident. CNN reported the country's defense ministry suggested that the Resolute carried foreign mercenaries trying to invade Venezuela.
A search and rescue operation rescued all men aboard the patrol boat, according to the Venezuelan government.