Indian and Chinese crew on board a tanker and a cargo ship escaped unharmed after the two vessels collided today in the waters between France and Britain in the English Channel, authorities said. The ‘Seafrontier’ oil tanker, carrying 38,000 tonnes of petrol to Guatemala, collided with the ‘Huayan Endeavor’, which was on its way from the Netherlands to Nigeria. Both ships are Hong Kong registered and flagged and were carrying 49 crew members from India and China, according to the British Coast Guard.
“Although both vessels have been damaged, there is no water ingress and no pollution. A French tug is on scene with the vessels. There are no injuries and all of the crew are accounted for,” a spokesperson for the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said.
The collision occurred shortly after 2am local time in the Dover Strait, around 15 miles from Dover, on the south-east coast of England. The 600-feet oil tanker, which is loaded with gasoline, has a hole above the waterline and damage to the superstructure and being monitored for leaks, the UK’s Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) charity said.
“It was fortunate there were no casualties,” an RNLI spokesperson said. A British Coastguard helicopter and lifeboats from Dover and Ramsgate were sent to the scene, in case of a possible evacuation, but have since left. A tug from Boulogne, France, was called and the ‘Seafrontier’ was taken under tow. The ‘Huayang Endeavour’ is anchored mid-Channel between the two shipping lanes.
The UK’s Channel Navigation Information Service is working to ensure “safe passage” of the vessels through the Dover Strait, which is the busiest shipping lane in the world. An investigation into the incident, which came during favourable conditions with moderate winds and calm seas, is underway.