The Belgian fishing vessel Soetkin after the collision with bulk tanker in English Channel. Photo JR

The Belgian fishing vessel Soetkin after the collision with bulk tanker in English Channel. Photo JR

The fishing vessel which collided with a bulk carrier of the south coast of England has returned home to Zeebrugge safely.

The Belgian beam trawler Soetkin Z-18 had collided with the 23,296 GT bulk carrier Calypso.Gr, 22 nautical miles from Selsey Bill in the English Channel during poor weather conditions in the early hours of Friday, 12 February last.

The six-man crew of the Soetkin had a very lucky escape when their 38-metre boat struck the 178-metre bulk carrier, flying the flag of the Marshall Islands, while it was on its way from Riga to the Panama Canal with a crew of 20 onboard.

Selsey’s RNLI lifeboat and the HM Coast Guard SAR helicopter from Lee-on-Solent were alerted because it could not be ruled out that the crew would have to be evacuated with wind blowing a force eight to nine.

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The bulk carrier also remained on standby to be able to intervene if necessary. At 4.58 am the Selsey RNLI lifeboat arrived at the scene of the accident.

At the time of the collision the trawler was fishing with their beams down, the nets were recovered before the arrival of the lifeboat but the port side trawl beam was hanging down in the water because a steel wire used to haul it up had been damaged in the collision.

The crew of the trawler worked for nearly an hour to repair the wire and were able to stow the trawl beam safely.

The Soetkin’s skipper asked for his boat to be lit to view the damage. After the damage was assessed, it was found that it was mostly above the waterline on the bow, the boat was cleared to travel under its own steam.

The skipper of the trawler checked he had propulsion and steering before saying he was happy to continue to his home port without further assistance.

On Saturday, Soetkin moored in icy cold at the fish auction in Zeebrugge. The bulk carrier suffered little damage and was able to continue its journey to Panama.

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Belgian fishing vessel involved in collision with bulk tanker returns home safely

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