Coaster Verity and Bulker Polesie Collide Off Helgoland

The 91m IoM flagged Verity appears to have sunk rapidly following a collision with the handysize bulker Polesie in the small hours of the morning:

I’ve overlaid the tracks off MT. Please note that the alignment was done manually, and thus imprecisely. It looks like the Verity was the stand-on vessel, but only by the tiniest margin, with the Polesie approaching from 25.45 degrees abaft the beam. That was clearly a bad take, se @Urs’s post below.

It appears that the Polesie was at or close to sea speed when the situation developed, while the Verity was traveling at reduced speed. The wind was a fresh breeze coming off the shore, with a possible swell coming from the SW, so I’m not clear on whether the sea state would have dictated this. See more accurate and detailed speed data in post 18.

A zoomed view of the accident site shows that the Polesie initiated an avoidance maneuver at a distance of approximately 1NM, while the Verity turned to pass astern only a few cables before impact:

This one is going to open up a whole can of Colregs worms, since it touches on the definition of in extremis and actions of the stand-on vessel, and the edge case of the overtaking vessel approaching from close to 22.5 degrees off the beam. Drift may have contributed to a discrepancy between heading and CoG. In any case, I would be surprised if fatigue and manning levels on coasters aren’t identified as factors in the accident.

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Oh I see. That paints a different picture indeed.

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Given today’s Gcaptain article said that in 2016 the coaster had a crew of seven, and now had five, that seems right.

Overtaking??? I am not sure and the configuration of TSS there should explain it all.

Can You indicate the source of such information or source of data regarding max see speed of both vessels pls ??

Used to see them around from time to time, literally on the parallel berth.
Guess not, anymore.
Shit; the North Sea is a horrible place to drown.

Sorry, the Coaster, not the bulker.

Yeah, that’s what I got from Urs’s posts. I was going off the MT images which don’t show the TSS, but I should have known. I’ve edited the original post for clarity.

No, that’s all guesswork. I’m going off the MT track colors showing the Verity moving in the 8-9 kt range, which is certainly well below service speed. Meanwhile the Polesie got right up to 16-ish kts on leaving Cuxhaven (which seems about right for a vessel of her specs) before very gradually reducing speed as she gained sea room to the SW.

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THX. Have found so far data on Polesie. Looks , she was under PRS classification . Items in red ME power and max speed . But not sure if this is 90% of MCR

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The “what’s going on (with?) shipping YouTube channel has a good breakdown of the incident. More importantly, a German chief mate in the comments gives an excellent description of the area and how the tss/vts system works there. Basically, the coaster would have to change vhf channels 5 times during the outbound transit, and 16 isn’t one of them. .05 CPA’s crossing sterns are daily business, and apparently the bulker most likely made a last minute turn hard to port - then to starboard while the coaster did the same, not realizing the coasters intent to pass close astern. Sucks either way.

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Two channels actually, and 16 all the time. 80 for German Bight Traffic, another channel for Cuxhaven, Elbe Traffic if you proceed to the Elbe or alternatively to the Weser. VTS in this area is very proactive and will contact ships to tell them they are in a close CPA situation. If there isn’t a recording somewhere of the VTS operator losing their mind on the VHF, I would be very surprised.

I’m not a German Chief Mate, but I have been regularly navigating in this area for 22 years. It is a tragedy that this happened at all.


Ch 16 I thought was fairly universal. Never sailed in those waters, but my and crew situational awareness would be hyped a bit in that kind of traffic… Agree with Damn Yankee, a a really bad friiggin day for all.

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Over here on SF Bay, the requirement is to monitor 13 and the appropriate VTS channel (12 or 14), which means two receivers and no scanning. If you also wanted to monitor 16 you’d need a third radio at hand, so at least in the US a watch on 16 shouldn’t be assumed in VTS areas.

I had 2 radios, used 16,13, and when needed appropriate VTS channels.

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I can’t say what happens in other areas of the world, but in the US, if you’re participating with a VTS, the requirement to monitor 16 doesn’t apply. In theory, the VTS is monitoring 16 and can tell a vessel on there that’s attempting to hail a participating one to switch to the VTS or bridge-to-bridge channel.

The requirement for certain vessels to monitor 13 (or 67 where appropriate) applies at all times in US waters, VTS participant or not. That’s part of the Bridge-to-Bridge Radiotelephone Act.

I’m not aware of any circumstance that would require monitoring of more than two channels (which would be cacophonic). In all cases, scanning or dual watch functions don’t meet the requirements. There must be a separate radio for each channel.

Relating back to the topic at hand, the Polesie, similar to most vessels of her type and vintage, most likely only has two VHF radios, each located along the forward part of the bridge below a window on either side of the centerline. Neither are usable while simultaneously looking at the radar or ECDIS. There are exceptions here and there to this layout, but it’s typical of most handy-size bulkers.

Absolutely correct sir,. used 67 while in Mississippi River… Not sure what happened in this terrible incident, but communications or lack of played a big part., as well as situational awareness.

Satellite data analytics company Spire Global reports the collision happened between approximately 4:55 UTC and 5:04 UTC. The Polesie was travelling West by Southwest at 10.7 knots (speed over ground), and the Verity was travelling North by Northwest at 11 knots (speed over ground). The Verity, Spire says, seemed to be accelerating speed just before the collision, going from 8 to 11 knots in approximately two minutes, whereas the Polesie was relatively stabler at around 10.5-11 knots, with a sudden drop in speed happening right after the collision. After the collision, Spire reports the Polesie seemed to turn around and return to the estimated collision placement, about 40-50 minutes later. The Verity seems to have stopped transmitting AIS immediately after the collision.
One Dead, Four Missing as UK Ship Sinks in North Sea Collision (

Thanks for adding detail, that’s quite curious. Why would the Verity go balls to the wall into a caution area like that? It only makes sense to me if she was avoiding other traffic. Does anyone have an AIS recording including other ships in the area?

Lots of flag states no longer talk about CH16 since GMDSS
I always used to ask the office on the policy for the vessel, get all sorts of answers.
( working in oil n gas fields there were always other channels to monitor)

PS Polesie seemed to come to port a bit earlier than it perhaps should have knowing they were on collision course and the stand on vessel and larger?