Video Emerges Of Venezuelan Navy Ship Firing On And Colliding With Cruise Ship Before Sinking

The hardened ice-breaking bow of the cruise ship made quick work of the Venezuelan naval vessel.

Twitter Screencap

In a follow-up to our report on the absolutely bizarre incident in which the Venezuelan patrol vessel ANBV Naiguatá (GC-23) fired on and smashed into the cruise ship RCGS Resolute off the Isla La Tortuga in the Caribbean Sea, we now have video of the incident. The patrol ship ended up sinking itself after smashing into the Resolute. Apparently, the Venezuelan Navy crew were unaware that the cruise ship has a reinforced hull that allows it to venture into partially frozen waters—a feature that also makes it a poor target for battering another ship into. You can and should read all about this strange ordeal and the equally odd geopolitical connections behind it in this past piece of ours

The video, which the Venezuelan Navy released and is heavily edited, shows a Venezuelan seaman firing an AK-47 at the ship and then the two ships impacting, with the patrol boat quickly taking on water. The incident occurred in the early hours of March 30th, 2020, and the cruise ship, which was supposedly undergoing repairs at the time, was clearly making little if any speed through relatively calm waters. 

The exact circumstances that led to the incident remain murky. Resolute's operator, Columbia Cruise Services, has already released a statement accusing the Venezuelan Navy of attempting to illegally seize the ship in international waters. Then, when the cruise ship's captain refused to divert to a Venezuela port, Naiguatá attempted to physically block it from leaving the area, which apparently resulted in the collision, according to the company. All 44 crewmen aboard the patrol vessel were rescued after the ship sunk.

The Venezuelan Navy says Naiguatá was conducting a maritime traffic control operation at the time and claims it was the Resolute that deliberately turned into its patrol boat. However, if the Venezuelan ship had been the one that turned into the path of the cruise ship the positioning could have largely been the same. The Resolute is significantly larger and less maneuverable than the Naiguatá, as well. The official video notably does not show the full sequence of events.

Government of Venezuela

A graphic showing the Venezuelan government's version of events with regards to the collision. 

In addition, there does not appear to be a readily available explanation from Venezuelan authorities of why the offshore patrol vessel had approached the cruise liner in the first place, let alone fired on it. Resolute had stopped in international waters off the coast of Venezuela so the crew could make repairs, according to Columbia Cruise Services. After the incident, she sailed on, as planned, to her destination, Willemstad, Curaçao

Satellite imagery shows an oil slick, in international waters, in the area of the altercation, which could have been from the sinking Naiguatá. The oil also could have moved further out to sea since the collision.

Venezuelan officials have said that they cannot rule out that Resolute was "was transporting mercenaries to attack military bases in Venezuela," but it is unclear if this was why they had sortied out the Naiguatá to investigate the cruise ship in the first place. The Resolute was sailing from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Willemstad at the time and was officially carrying no passengers. 

The ship had been in Buenos Aires since November 2019 after it was blocked from leaving due to an apparent legal dispute over unpaid debts between One Ocean Expeditions, a Canadian cruise operator, and another company. As noted, the Germany-based Columbia Cruise Services was operating the ship at the time of the incident off Venezuela.

Resolute is also flagged in Portugal, where authorities are in the midst of their own dispute with the Venezuelan government, which is tied to that country's serious ongoing internal political crisis. Once again, you can read more about these geopolitical issues surrounding the event in the War Zone's initial report on this story.

LUIS GARCÍA CURADO VIA WIKIMEDIA

ANBV Naiguatá.

Whatever the case, it still appears that the Venezuelan sailors sorely underestimated the stoutness of the relatively unassuming cruise ship's hardened bow and paid for that miscalculation with their own vessel. 

We will update this story as more information becomes available.

Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com